07 April 2020, The Tablet

One heart’s desire


Strange Hotel
(FABER &?Faber, 160 PP, £12.99)
Tablet bookshop price £11.69 • Tel 020 7799 4064

Eimear McBride is a multiple-­prize-winning, brilliantly intense word-sculptor of the damaged psyche; and this is her third novel. There is a pattern to all three: they hinge on sexual abuse or deceit, and its complex effects on the abused. But don’t be put off. As long as you give it full concentration, the writing is both beautifully fluid and precise, and it is often worth reading a phrase a second time to savour another layer.

Strange Hotel is also about desire. However, no acts or grapplings are described, nor indeed is there much description of any sort. Indeed, the narrator avoids all direct reference to sex with a primness of Miss Jean Brodie.

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