When Vivian was little, her parents said they thought she was a changeling. Not only that, but they told her they tried to get their real daughter back.
Out of work for six months, Vivian wanders the streets of Dublin. It's not random, it's planned and she maps her travels. She also visits site and museums, listing butterflies, treasures she discovers on the beach, and other things she sees in her wanderings. Of special interest, signs with missing letters.
Then one day Vivian decides she'd like to make a friend. Not just any friend - a friend named Penelope. So she makes an advert. Lo and behold, a Penelope answers!
Eggshells is a bit of an odd read. Catriona Lally has a very different and distinct style and voice, creating in Vivian a whimsical character who most definitely lives outside the bounds of what one would consider normal.
Vivian's travels and interactions with others only cement this further. At one point, a man on a bus asks her for money and she hands him lemons. Her logic, the lemons are worth so much and so he only needs to seek out the difference. Needless to say, her lemons are not accepted with gratitude.
In another scene, Vivian has decided to have a blue day and heads to the store to buy appropriate materials. The clerk mistakenly believes it's for a child's birthday and Vivian does nothing to dissuade this idea, instead informing the clerk that yes, she's planning a party for her six year old sons. Who are at home alone. But it's ok because they can't get out of their wheelchairs.
This is a telling scene for a few reasons. First, Vivian definitely doesn't think about the repercussions in taking this farce as far as she does while she's doing it. But she does quickly realize her mistake. So we know that she knows, for example, that leaving six year old wheelchair bound children at home alone is not acceptable. She even goes so far as to wear a disguise later, in case anyone from the store who over heard is nearby.
There's never an explanation about Vivian. Is she simply given to flights of fancy and happy as such. Or is there an actual reason for the way she is. We don't know. There were a few instances where it seemed she might be OCD, mentally repeating "safe" when going to a new shop, for example. But other than those hints, the reader is left to wonder.
I have mentioned before that I lean more towards plot driven rather than character driven novels. A book like Eggshells is the exception. While it is a strange read, following Vivian around on her day to day explorations and such, she is the kind of character who drives a story through her oddness. And so I was curious to see where Vivian would take me next and stuck with her.
In the end I did, however, wish for more plot, more actual happenings, and even more on Vivian's life before the book began.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Catriona Lally and her work you can follow her on Twitter.
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