Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh


This is the newest title of the Next Girl on the Train genre. Like GotT Eileen is heavy on character study, however light on plot. That’s not to say there is no story, there most certainly is, it is merely slow on the reveal. As the title suggests the central character is Eileen, Eileen Dunlop a retired cop’s stay at home daughter. Eileen has issues; of self esteem, body dysmorphia, alcohol & an abusive alcoholic father. She works in a young offenders home & occupies her hours fantasing about one of the guards whose house she sits outside on Sundays. She dresses in dead mother’s clothes, keeps her Dad in gin & regularly shoplifts. Quite frankly Eileen is a mess. Until Christmas week 1964, when the glam Rebecca St John is appointed as the new facility counsellor.

Rebecca is everything Eileen is not, she is the prom queen & emotionally unstable Eileen becomes hopelessly infatuated with her. Rebecca notices Eileen & actually befriends her. Thus setting on course the chain of events that would see Eileen disappear.

What unfolds through Eileen’s matter of fact narration is a very Hitchcockian pact. In her desperation to escape to a big city (New York) is Eileen willing to leave her helpless father alone to his demons & the squalor of their home? What is she willing to do to achieve her dream? How does Rebecca figure in her story?

I found Eileen to be thoroughly engrossing – with the emphasis on ‘gross’, she is not a character for everyone but she is certainly an interesting study in noir.


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