- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Recorded Books
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 8 May 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQD1NM
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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The Virgin Suicides Audio Download – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
The book superbly evokes American school life of the 1970s and is particularly good on the trials of dating:
'our fathers and older brothers, our decrepit uncles had assured us that looks didn't matter if you were a boy...finally, confronted with clusters of clever girls blushing at Trip's approach, or yanking their braids to keep from smiling too much, we realised that our fathers, brothers and uncles had lied, and that no one was going to love us for our good grades.'
An unusual feature of the book is the use of the first person plural ('we') for the story, the book being narrated by a group of the Lisbon girls schoolboy contemporaries. This technique was later used even more succesfully in Joshua Ferris's magnificent And Then We Came to an End (2007).
Despite the book's virtues, it wasn't entirely to my taste. Eugenides clearly values atmosphere over narrative momentum, and for a quite substantial portion of the book it is not obvious what, if anything, is the point of suspense.
The prose, while fresh and carefully constructed, is rather 'literary' and effete. Much of the language would not be used outside the confines of the literary novel.
Finally, there is perhaps something voyeuristic about the way the teenage Lisbon sisters are described. No doubt this could be defended as reflecting the attitude of the schoolboy contemporaries of the sisters rather than the author's view, but it remains an uneasy element.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Terrific read, possibly even better than Middlesex. Deeply moving and thought provoking. Well worth reading and will stick with mePublished 2 months ago by pfjacoustic
I found this novel intriguing and hard to put down. It is beautifully written with extraordinarily complex characters. I shall most probably read it again.Published 3 months ago by caelo
Good quality book and received very quick - not yet read but I am sure I will love it.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is very slow, detailed read. I'm sure that it provokes a 'love it or hate it' reaction from all of its readers. Read morePublished 5 months ago by AGM
For a book that gives away the plot in the first chapter, it still managed to keep me on tenderhooks- creepy and thought provoking.Published 6 months ago by Jade
Annoyingly boring and quite meaningless. I hate it when that happens with a book and you have to start again; trawling, checking reviews, choosing and hoping.Published 8 months ago by Louise
Nice book would buy from them again as it was well packed and arrived on time. I have just read it.Published 8 months ago by RonH43