The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is cover of the 1999 edition.

This is cover of the 1999 edition.

* 1001 Books Book

Eugenides, J. (1994). The virgin suicides. New York: Warner Books.

Thanks to Oprah, I read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides this past summer. Amazed by Eugenides, I looked to see when the movie would be coming. Well, that has not happened yet for Middlesex but there was Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, a movie adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’ first novel by the same name. Quickly, I put my name on the waiting list for the movie. After I saw the movie, I requested the book. Both The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex are among the 1001 Books of 2006. Now, I even own a copy of The Virgin Suicides.

Narrated by a group of middle-aged men looking upon items and memories, The Virgin Suicides takes the reader through that fateful “year of the suicides.” These guys were the teenage neighbors of the Catholic Lisbon family. Mr. Lisbon teaches high school math while the strict Mrs. Lisbon makes a home for her five lovely daughters. They are the “brainy Therese (17), fastidious Mary (16), ascetic Bonnie (15), libertine Lux (14), and pale, saintly Cecilia (13),” (Eugenides).

Cecilia attempts suicide and seemingly stuns all, including her older sisters. In order to cheer the glum Cecilia, the Lisbons throw a party in their basement. Cecilia excuses herself and jumps from her bedroom window, successfully taking her own life. Becoming the talk of the Grosse Pointe community, the remaining Lisbon girls grow more isolated from other kids and the grist for the rumor mill.

Again, Eugenides impressed and held me spellbound by his writing. I found myself wishing that Eugenides, not King, had written Carrie. The seamless movement of his group of narrators through interviews and attempts of understanding what has come to pass in neighborhood would have smoothed the multitude of wrinkles in Carrie. I wish my high school group projects/papers had gone so well!

Eugenides captures the dementia of obsession and elusiveness of crushes with painful poignancy. In their telling of the Lisbon girls, these guys have beautified these sisters, particularly the dazzling Lux. Memory and aura protect these girls from the scrutiny attempted by the quixotic group of men. They are still haunted by the Lisbons.

Allegorical or not, I was enthralled by the descriptions and views of the Lisbon girls. Due to rubber necking and disbelief, I could not stop reading this book. In their endeavor to solve the mystery, I learned much about the narrator. Coming away from my reading, I felt I knew much more about the telescope than the stars. Of course, people tend to tell on themselves. This is how life goes.

I give The Virgin Suicides Four and Three quarters Pearls.

Places: Grosse Pointe, Michigan;  Detroit, Michigan

For more on The Virgin Suicides:


4 thoughts on “The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

  1. I agree that you find the narrator as fascinating as the object of his fascination. That’s one of the things I found very clever about the book.

    Thanks for the link!

  2. Pingback: Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex « Jorie's Reads

  3. Pingback: Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot « Jorie's Reads

  4. Pingback: Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower « Jorie's Reads

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