This review needs a disclosure to begin with: I spent two years in college with Caitriona Lally, before she decided to change tack and study English instead. We’d lost touch over the years, so when ‘Eggshells’ first appeared, I spent a while wondering ‘Is that…?’ before confirming that yes, it was ‘my’ Catriona Lally.
There is something Joycean about ‘Eggshells’, in a stream of consciousness and love letter to Dublin sort of way. In fact, were I to live in Dublin, I could see myself on an ‘Eggshells Tour’, following in character Vivian’s footsteps (and bus routes), as she negotiates the city, trying to find somewhere she belongs. Vivian doesn’t know where she fits in, and neither, it seems, does anyone else- not her neighbours or her incongruously named sister, Vivian.
‘ I used to bring home damp and gleaming shells, I used to think that if I found the perfect shell I would find the shape of the world, but I was always disappointed’.
This is not so much a story as an observational character study. I imagine how you react to it may depend on your tolerance for Vivian’s eccentricity and obsessiveness (there are many lists of items throughout that Vivian diligently copies into her notebook). Vivian provides a different way of looking at world, both its notable and mundane aspects. Perhaps it is a form of observation that we as readers could bring to our own locales to view them afresh, be that in Dublin or elsewhere.