Book Review: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Rebecca Coddington: English Studies.
Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is an original novel which plays with the conventions of language, pushing it to its limits. It tells the story of a nameless girl, using a stream of consciousness narrative to tell describe the traumatic events of her life. Taking inspiration from James Joyce’s Ulysses, the novel contains broken, fragmented sentences which may initially disorientate the reader, yet still feel natural to us. As Ron Charles of The Washington Post notes: ‘it’s a staggering emotional ordeal that draws us into the world of a woman forced to endure a knife drawer of horrors that would slice up anyone’s sanity.’ I would definitely agree that this is an accurate judgement of the novel, with its twists and turns keeping the reader hooked to its unusually-worded pages.
Although I don’t usually steer towards modernist fiction, I found A Girl to be a dramatic and invigorating read. The abnormal language of the novel immerses the reader in the traumatic life of a half-formed girl, struggling through childhood and early adulthood and fraught with themes of sexuality, religion and Irish culture. Despite steering away from a traditional prosaic structure, McBride’s novel remains universal in its ambiguous nature through its unnamed characters and themes of despair and loss which we can all relate to on some level. It is this handling of grief within the novel which has made it my favourite so far from the English Now 2 module, where we have recently studied fiction and form.
Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is covered in the English Now 2: Fiction and Form module.
Have you read this novel? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
You can read Ron Charles Review Here.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is available from most major retailers.