I am not quite sure I have ever read a book of two halves quite like The Lesser Bohemians. The story is set in 1994, 18 year-old Eilis arrives in London from Ireland to study drama in London, where she meets 20 years her senior, Stephen who has a complicated past. The backdrop is 90’s Camden Town, complete with pubs, parties and bedsit dwelling sub characters.
The story, from Eilis’s point of view personifies the passion, anger and helplessness of first loves. The book is even written in a hapless, jumpy style which almost helps you follow the mind and thoughts of the characters. It took me a little while to get used to, but once you do it becomes enjoyable to read, making you feel more involved.
The shining moment for the book which really turned it around for me, comes in the form of a 60 page monologue of Stephen talking about his cruel and at times brutal upbringing and family life. It is truly harrowing but I found was a turning point on my view and feelings towards Stephen as a character, which is a turn of genius by McBride.
Through ups and downs the story concludes in a way which is satisfying yet still allows you to image the future for the characters.