In Search Of The Missing Eyelash – Karen McLeod

Finally I have managed to read the first book and a review is ready for the site. I ummmed and ahhhhed about what I should read first, should it be an old classic or a brand new book? However, when this delightfully plopped through my letter box the other day I knew it was going straight to the top of my TBR (to be read) pile. I saw Karen McLeod read some of her favourite book; the very funny and poignant ‘Crocodile Soup’ by Julia Carling last year at The Lavender Library. The way she discussed that book, along with the hilarious excerpts she read, made me instantly go out and grab a copy the next day. In fact I will blog about that book tomorrow! I thought this was an equally wonderful book, in fact I think they should sell the two together like sometimes Vintage do, one older with one newer, I think they would be a perfect pairing.

‘In Search of the Missing Eyelash’ is narrated by Lizzie, a really interesting character that at first I couldn’t work out if I was going to like. By the end of the novel I was on a complete emotional journey with her through hilarious highs and also some surprising and shocking lows. Lizzie is in a strange emotional place when we first meet her. Her father has died a while back which has scarred her, she has fallen out with her mother, her brother Simon (or Amanda as he likes to be known) is missing and she is pretty much obsessed with her ex-girlfriend Sally who has left her for a man ‘with a fat neck’. When I say obsessed I mean really obsessed, it’s proper stalking with cameras and the like, collecting bathroom fluff and other odd assortments as she goes.

Her confidantes are her self obsessed neighbour (who I didn’t quite like and yet who supplied many laughs) who is always falling in love with a new man and her boss Ruby of ‘Ruby’s Caff’. Her workplace and its customers I think were a stroke of complete genius from McLeod secondary characters such as Elsie who is a bit psychic and Alf whose son finds him a Thai Bride, made light in some very dark parts of the book as well as being completely believable. The story then follows Lizzie as she follows Sally to Brighton and as things start to unravel all around her and her past starts to take it toll.

I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel. I thought that McLeod’s prose was perfect and in some parts very poetic (and I don’t mean because of one of the characters poems about Pickled Onions) it had me totally spell bound and I devoured it in two sittings. I thought the way it dealt with gender, sexuality and a family breakdown was honest and poignant without being overly dramatic (there is a good sprinkling of drama in there though) and didn’t make it the main part of the story which some books do. It was prevalent but not domineering. I thought it was an incredibly accomplished novel and was much deeper and darker than I was expecting, I thought it was going to be very funny from the blurb which it is just with some nasty twists. I laughed at several parts out loud on particular scene which I won’t mention as I don’t want to spoil it, it did actually have me laughing out loud for about five minutes. I can’t wait for her next book.

What a brilliant start to my ‘great gay reads’ reading, I am quite tempted to stalk Karen McLeod now!

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~ by greatgayreads on January 28, 2009.

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