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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic novel of adolescent love and obsession
I saw the film and wanted to read the book to understand the concept more. I wasn't disappointed and was sucked in by the world the boys inhabit and the intensity of their feelings. The girls are indeed mystical creatures and fascinated me from beginning to end. This is a must for all who have seen the film and should not be missed!!!!!
Published on 12 May 2002

versus
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I got it but I didn't get it
I wanted to love this book. I wanted to fall head over heels in love with it. I thought I would aswell. Books about teenagers are my thing, books about suburbia are my thing, books about suicide are my thing. This should have been my thing, but it wasn't.
This is the story about the Lisbon girls, five sisters who all killed themselves, told by the neighbourhood boys...
Published on 5 April 2006 by imla


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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I got it but I didn't get it, 5 April 2006
This review is from: The Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
I wanted to love this book. I wanted to fall head over heels in love with it. I thought I would aswell. Books about teenagers are my thing, books about suburbia are my thing, books about suicide are my thing. This should have been my thing, but it wasn't.
This is the story about the Lisbon girls, five sisters who all killed themselves, told by the neighbourhood boys who were, and still are, infatuated with them. It is written beautifully and from the opening few pages I thought this was going to be the perfect book but I soon became disappointed.
For me there was no plot, it was just an account of people's responses to the suicides. I struggled to get a grip of the characters, there were too many names mentioned without personalities attached - this wasn't too much of a problem but my big problem came when I realised I only felt like I knew two of the five Lisbon sisters. If I felt like I knew them more then perhaps I would have cared about the book.
I recognised the ending was good but it could have been better. I got a sense of knowing what the author was trying to say but feeling he hadn't quite managed to say it.
After looking at the other reviews I realise I am in the minority - proving everyone has a different opinion. All I can guess is that I just didn't get it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic novel of adolescent love and obsession, 12 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
I saw the film and wanted to read the book to understand the concept more. I wasn't disappointed and was sucked in by the world the boys inhabit and the intensity of their feelings. The girls are indeed mystical creatures and fascinated me from beginning to end. This is a must for all who have seen the film and should not be missed!!!!!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "the insufficiency of explanations", 1 Feb 2007
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
After reading Eugenides masterful Middlesex, I decided to go back and read his much slimmer debut novel in the hopes it was at least partially as good. While it's not quite as amazing as Middlesex, it is quite good in its own peculiar way. However, those who like their novels to answer the questions they raise should be forewarned, as they will likely find it a rather unsatisfying experience.

Set in the early '70s in the tony Detroit suburb of Grosse Point, the story's premise is outlined in the very first paragraph: over the course of a year, all five of the teenaged Lisbon sisters commit suicide. This year is described in an unusual second-person plural voice which is that of a group of neighborhood boys (now men) who, some twenty years later, are reviewing the results of their "investigation" into the suicides. (There doesn't seem be any particular point to laying this out as an investigation, as opposed to a memoir, and this framework is a little shaky in that various "exhibits" and "attachments" are referred to in the narrative, but unavailable to the reader.)

So while the reader is aware from the start that this is a tragedy, the expectation is that the story will go on to explain why this occurred, what drove the girls to do this. And while the story beautifully details that dismal year, and reports on all the speculation by the neighborhood adults who project their own worldviews onto the tragedy, it concludes: "We were certain only of the insufficiency of explanations." And that is presumably the main point of the book --that suicide cannot ever be explained because we can never have access to the person's thoughts and emotions. This also explains the use of the second-person perspective, as Eugenides implicitly rejects the notion of the omniscient narrator. The boys' obsession with the sisters is another enigma, and becomes almost as creepy and dark as the suicides, as we learn of their all-night vigils and serial-killeresque hoarding of Lisbon sister-related artifacts.

The writing has a certain dreamy ethereal ambiguity to it--there's definitely the haze of memory and a certain degree of nostalgia, but overlain with the essential mysteriousness of the five girls. We only get to know two of them particularly well: Cecilia, a kind of proto-goth who dyes her underwear black, and Lux, who attempts to find human connection via hedonism. In a sense, the book is kind of gothic horror story, shot through with moments of black humor (such as the when the men of the neighborhood struggle to remove the fence Cecilia impales herself on). The film version is utterly faithful to both this tone and the storyline itself.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicate and perceptive, 3 April 2007
By 
This review is from: The Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
This is a really fantastic book, beautifully observed and and elegantly written. It tells the story of 5 teenage sisters who all commit suicide, one after the other.

The book is told from the perspective of the boys who fantasise about them. Although their voices merge, it is the insight into those teenage boys which is the most real and striking - their obsessive fascination and cataloguing, their curiosity about the girls and everything about them, at an age when most actual physical boy-girl contact was awkward fumbling and sweaty hand-holding.

The description of the decay of the family home as the family slowly sinks into despair is equally convincing.

You are totally swept up into Eugenides world, through his evocative descriptions of dust, smells, and tiny details of observation.

Coppola's film is good, but not as good as the book, because in the end the film is about the Lisbon sisters, who remain ultimately enigmatic in the book, whereas the book is about the boys who observe them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a love song, 10 Aug 2004
This review is from: The Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
Can't tell you how much i loved this book.beautiful and lyrical, it's a love song to life, as much as it is a novel about growing pains. Eugenides beautifully captures that "otherness" that we often feel in life, without beating it to death, and the hot,hazy images he creates stay with you long after the book is finished. An amazing debut novel by a writer who deserves to be recognised more than he is. He followed this by the equally great "Middlesex".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 12 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Virgin Suicides (Hardcover)
I read this book around a year ago. I hadn't ever heared of it before I bought it. I didn't really expect much, it was just a book I picked up to read on my holiday. It turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read. Jeffery Eugenides manages to juggle very different elements in the book and he fits them together perfectly. The film is also very good.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simply mesmerizing debut novel, 20 April 2003
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
Jeffrey Eugenides' first novel The Virgin Suicides is an almost surreal, haunting, wholly unforgettable work of literary art. It has an almost unmatched depth and resonance that penetrates deeply into the ephemeral layers of life and humanity. In company with the vaguely revealed narrator and his former childhood friends, the reader becomes a peeping tom spying on the five young ladies next door and developing an intense need to understand their innermost thoughts and feelings and to come to know what terrible forces lurking inside that increasingly deteriorating house could possibly lead each of them to take their own lives. There's no real mystery to this story, as the reader is told from the very first page that the five girls will all commit suicide; the heart of the novel lies in the search for answers that can never truly be forthcoming.
The Lisbon girls - Cecilia (13), Lux (14), Bonnie (15), Mary (16), and Theresa (17) haunt every page of this novel; even as one reads about their lives during the tumultuous year in which all would commit suicide, one sees only ephemeral visions of what they could have been without any penetrating snapshots of their engaging in life in a literal sense. Cecilia, the youngest, is the first to go. Three weeks after slitting her wrists in an unsuccessful attempt to die, she leaves a party thrown for her own benefit and hurls herself from an upstairs window onto a picket fence. The neighborhood boys are there when it happens and thus feel an intense link to the lovely girls next door who die without ever really having lived. We hear their private conversations and speculations about the girls and witness their attempts to both penetrate the deadly gloom that soon wraps the house in a death shroud as well as to somehow save the girls from a fate seemingly forced upon them by destiny. While certain adolescent issues of a sexual nature meander through their thoughts, the image they cast of the girls is one of purity of a sort. Even Lux, the one sister who is far from virginal, comes across as some type of mystical being whose most sordid of acts seems less than unclean.
All we learn about the tragic sisters comes from our narrator and his friends, boys whose fascination and surreal love for the girls never loses its hold on them in later adulthood. The images conveyed about the mysterious interior of the house and the complete and utter breakdown of the entire, tragic Lisbon family is filtered through their eyes. The Virgin Suicides really is a type of ghost story and as such can only be analyzed and pondered over without being "solved." Eugenides does seem to wander off into tangents on a couple of occasions, but by and large he builds this story up beautifully to its previously stated yet still tragically shocking ending. The novel gets under your skin and penetrates your very heart, leaving a very real emotional imprint on the reader's mind and soul. This is an exquisitely written masterpiece of a novel, lyrically gripping in its style and mesmerizing in its emotional impact.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Virgin Suicides: Define Obsession., 10 Dec 2000
Define Obsession.
A worryingly-touching novel depicting the struggles of five young girls attempting to grow in the most restrictive of capacities. The story of the suicides is told through the inquisitive eyes of one of the girls many besotted victims. Eugenides' image of obsession and yearning is the feature point of his novel and its jigsaw-like narration allows it to retain a wonderful sense of ambiguity. Eugenides major triumph is his ability to shock. In a novel which reveals its conclusion within the first two lines, it is amazing how it is able to create a false sense of hope from the reader. 'The Virgin Suicides' is beautifully eloquent and Eugenides' vivid imagery makes it a very engaging read. This skill is evident in his superb ability to produce a sense of awkwardness that almost makes the reader feel bad for prying. Even though Eugenides' is dealing with a difficult subject like suicide he still creates a dark and humourous account which actually lightens with every read. 'The Virgin Suicides' by Jeffrey Eugenides, which has now been adapted by Sofia Coppola to a feature-length film is coincidentally his first novel as is Sofia Coppola's directorial debut. The film takes a more light-hearted view of the situation whereas the book delivers the story with a more morbid and frightening truth. There are parts however where the novel loses its gripping edge. But it Eugenides is quick to pull it back on track and into the realms of surrealism. 'The Virgin Suicides' is a remarkable novel and Eugenides' melancholic tone throughout makes it so powerful and evocative.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You have to read this book!!!!!, 25 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Virgin Suicides (Paperback)
I was literally glued to this book from eight o'clock in the evening till the late hours of the morning. Having seen the film, i was interested in reading the book. I have never been as hooked on a book as i was to this. I couldn't put it down. The plot and sub-plot of this book were fantastically intertwined...I loved the fact that, on the surface, there was the heartbreaking tale of the five sisters who take their own lives, but also the obsession of the group who are telling the story. Intriguing, beautiful, moving... its just brilliant!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange, unusual novel, 24 Jan 2013
By 
F. M. M. Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
I find this novel hard to summarise, as there is little in the way of plot, I never felt I really got to know the characters, and as it builds up to its (slow) climax, there are few surprises. And yet...

For a start, it is quite beautifully written. The writing drew me in where the plot did not, and oddly, it was enough to keep me reading - and enjoying - the book. The first of the five sisters to commit suicded dies at the beginning of the novel, and the story is told from the point of view of an anonymous member of a group of young men who watch, befriend and are fascinated by the girls. We never discover the identity of the narrator, nor do we need to. The girls themselves - vague, amorphous creatures; almost two-dimensional - never really came to life for me, but seemed to drift through the narrative like the pale ghosts they were to become. Their parents - weird, drunken mother and helpless father - are equally vague characters, and it's easy to understand the facination this odd family hold for their neighbours.

As the story builds towards the deaths of the remaining four sisters, there is some tension, but never enough to hold my attention on its own, and I found the ending rather flat. I was left slightly bewildered, but also with the feeling that I had read a good novel.

Would I recommend it? I'm not sure. If you like beautiful writing and unusual stories, then this may be for you. It's not the kind of book I would give to friends, and yet I'm glad I read it.

Three and a half stars.
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The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
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