Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

Eggshells Reader Reviews


Annie Day

A highly original perspective on everyday life.

Eggshells by Caitriona Lally is a highly original novel set in Dublin. Vivian, a young woman who has just inherited her aunt’s house, believes that she is a changeling and is seeking a way to cross the cosmic divide back to fairyland. The book is an account of Vivian’s (earthly) life over a period of a few months and the various encounters with people and places enable us to see the world through her eyes. While most of Vivian’s reasonings are, to say the least, rather offbeat, I thought that some of her observations about dealing with loud people and escaping awkward social situations were quite insightful. Her habit of counting the number of sentences exchanged with strangers will resonate with anyone who has lived alone in a new location or a foreign country, and her tactics for avoiding uncomfortable conversations with the neighbours are probably strategies adopted by many people on a regular basis. The new friendship with Penelope (aka Elaine) is a hilarious yet poignant aspect of the story which I enjoyed.

This is a highly creative novel and Caitriona Lally’s knowledge of folklore and use of language are impressive, as are her vivid descriptions of Dublin. However, for me there were a few gaps in the story. Although Vivian’s behaviour in many situations could be viewed as quirky or eccentric, her approach to some things is quite alarming. Even if you feel empathy with her it is clear that she has some degree of mental health issues and is probably incapable of living alone. An abusive family background is vaguely hinted at but not properly explained, and the relationship with her sister (also called Vivian) and the background to the inheritance of her aunt’s house are not fully explored. I also would have appreciated a more structured plot rather than a long series of tales about Vivian’s unpredictable interactions with this world and the one beyond.

Overall I enjoyed Eggshells and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an imaginative take on people, relationships and navigating the challenges of life. I would definitely read another book by Caitriona Lally.


Agnieszka Higney

For fans of Eleanor Oliphant and Bee Larkham. Quirky characters, Dublin-based, funny and sad at the same time!

This short novel is a quick read that reads well if you familiar with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine set very much in modern Dublin. The main character, Vivian is on an autistic spectrum, with mental health and learning disabilites, that first seem like being odd and anti-social. You don't warm to her too much and there is not much in a way of a plot. Here and there you have almost pages of long lists, which definitely brings on the autistic spectrum quite well, but does not add to the book itself and drags. There were a few very well written comic passages of misunderstandings, that made me laugh out loud! We will learn about the reasons why Vivian is like she is, but there could be more about her great-aunt and reasons why her sister is selfish and cold. I kept waiting for Penelope/Elaine to turn out to be in Vivian's imagination, or for a plot twist! I found the short, quirky chapters an easy read, but I must admit, I saw this novel as a very close relative of Eleanor Oliphant and that could be its demise.

kathryn Jolley-Whitfield

A beautifully written and charming story which will have you laughing and will bring tears to your eyes.

A quiet and unique story about Vivian who finds herself living alone in her Great Aunt's house and trying to work out the world around her and where she stands in it.

I loved Vivian from the first page, I loved her personality and her descriptions of Dublin as she explores the City.

A brilliantly written novel. I look forward to more from Caitriona Lally.


Lynne Packer

If Eleanor Oliphant had an Irish cousin I’m pretty sure it would be Vivian.

If Eleanor Oliphant had an Irish cousin I’m pretty sure it would be Vivian. Vivian is a unique character that you can’t help becoming emotionally attached too as she travels around Dublin trying to find her way back to the ‘Otherworld’. There are many layers to this book that unravel as you read about Vivian and maybe the greatest story is the untold story of Vivian and the experiences she has had that have come to shape her life. Vivian will live on in my heart long after the book is finished. This is a charming and beautifully written book.


Was OK read for me, but I know others will enjoy it more than me. I also think whether you like this book or not all comes down to personal preference.

When I started reading this book I was waiting for the story to start but when I reached about 100 pages I realised the book was actually based on the character Vivian and her life and nothing else. From what I read I think Vivian has some sort of learning difficulty but I can’t be sure as it’s not made clear in the book.

I found the first few chapters of this book very interesting but as I read on I felt that after about the first 100 pages or so the story just seemed to slow down and became very repetitive.

I think the storyline would have been better suited as a short story rather than a novel.

I felt there was a lack of character development and where there was a little it was too slow. I found myself trying to work out what was going on with the character and therefore I think that this may have been one of the reasons why I was distracted from the book.

Overall I’d say it was OK read for me, but I know others will enjoy it more than me. I also think whether you like this book or not all comes down to personal preference.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. Yes, if you haven’t got anything else to read, but if you have then I wouldn’t rush to read this one.

Sarah Jones

A refreshing view of the world and a good account of how it might feel when you don't fit in with the rest of the world.

Vivian thinks she may be a changeling. She is sure she doesn't belong in the life she has. No one understands her or the things she does. So she wanders the streets of Dublin, looking for a way to get back to where she belongs. She is scared of consonants and mirrors but loves blue and lists of words. This is a somewhat baffling, but intriguing walk through her life.

It took me a while to get into this book but eventually, I really enjoyed it. Vivian was the first person narrator and it was refreshing to see the world through her eyes and to understand how it might feel when you see the world differently to everyone else and don't fit in.

Sarah Noakes

Eggshells is about Vivian, a unique and otherworldly character adrift in Dublin. Catriona Lally tells her story deftly, with a joy of language that makes it a delight to read.

Eggshells is the story of Vivian, a young woman convinced she is not of this world, who spends her time scouring the streets of Dublin looking for a way back home.

In Vivian, Catriona Lally has created a totally unique voice. She clearly enjoys playing with language and she's having a party here. Vulnerable, otherworldly and with a decidedly different take on things most of us wouldn't even look at twice, how you feel about the book will depend on how you take to her. I for one loved her sideways view of life:

'I used to have soup, but I didn't know what to do with my jaws, and I didn't know which verb to use: was I eating or drinking? I could call it "dreating", but that sounds like a weary farmer giving a dose of medicine to a sick sheep. I avoid jelly for the same reason - it's a semi-solid frustration of verblessness.'

How she came to be so adrift is revealed slowly and obliquely. She never speaks outright about any abuse - in fact when she finally makes a friend, Vivian can't even bring herself to listen to Penelope's own sad story. This gives the book a dark undercurrent and what starts off as sweet and charming becomes heart-breaking without ever really saying why. It's very cleverly and subtly done.


Alison Bisping

If you know Dublin, which I don't, I imagine you would love the descriptions contained within this book and it is centred around journeys within Dublin, giving quite detailed descriptions.

A story about a lady - Vivian - who doesn't fit in anywhere. She has no friends, a sister called Vivian (as well) who finds her odd, she has no job, no skills, hates washing, hates mirrors. Her parents had always made her feel different, and so she believes she is. The book is about her journey of finding a friend, and trying to return to the land she believes she came from. I found it a hard read - not my book of choice, but perhaps I missed the point.

Book Information

ISBN: 9780008324407
Publication date: 20th September 2018
Author: Caitriona Lally
Publisher: The Borough Press an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, Literary Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Star Books,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Fiction & related items,