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Caitriona Lally

  • Original Title: EGGSHELLS
  • Publication date: May 2015
  • Publisher: Liberties Press
  • Country: IE
  • 253 print pages
  • Dramedy


  • Epoch: Contemporary
  • Time Period: 21st century
  • Location setting: Ireland
  • Themes: FAMILY, PEOPLE facing life, Personal fulfilment, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Psychological dysfunction, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Accepting differences, Dysfunctional family, Friendship, Tolerance, CHARACTERS, Atypical Character


Set in Dublin. Vivian lives in her recently deceased great-aunt Maud’s house. She doesn’t work, but has various projects. She wants to make a friend called Penelope, so she advertises and, surprisingly, finds one.


Translation rights sold: US, UK

Winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature 2018.

Debut novel

Caitriona Lally offers a witty, exhilarating debut novel in EGGSHELLS. Vivian’s head is filled to the brim with clever one-liners that leave the people she encounters more than a little confused. Her OCD-like tendencies make her human relationships strained, but she still has the house her Great Aunt Maude left her – as long as she doesn't hurt its feelings.

EGGSHELLS was selected as one of 12 finalists in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2014. It is Vivian's story of trying to be normal, while searching desperately for an entrance to a place where she belongs.

Praise for EGGSHELLS
'Any book that makes you think this much is a good one. To sustain such an odd voice is a difficult task. Lally pulls it off by being inventive, funny, and, ultimately, rather moving. A daring debut. ' —The Guardian'A book full of one liners...the black comedy gives the book a jaunty quality that complements the dazzling trip around Dublin.' —The Irish Times

'Delightfully quirky...Vivian's voice alone is enough to keep us reading, charmed by her unique brand of manic, word-hoarding wit.'—Irish Independent'A wonderful debut, funny and touching, with skillful wordplay at work. Vivian's difference intrigues.' —Irish Examiner'Highly original, Lally has a unique voice as a writer.' —Sunday Independent'Engaging and humorous...the perfect gift to send to expats of Dublin.' —Dublin Inquirer

Caitriona Lally studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin. She previously worked as an abstract writer and a copywriter and was an English teacher in Japan. She was shortlisted for ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in the Irish Book Awards in 2015.


Vivian is not great at social interaction. Actually, Vivian is extremely awkward in company and can go days without speaking to another human being. A grown-up orphan, she lives in an inherited house in Dublin's North inner city. She has sporadic contact with her sister, also called Vivian, and avoids her neighbours as much as possible. However, she would like to have friends, have a purpose to her days and someone to bounce her random thoughts off. Lemonfish, her decrepit goldfish, is not one for words, so she advertises for a friend. But Vivian, being the individual that she is, only wants a friend called Penelope. No nicknames, like Pen or Penny. She has her reasons, one being her love for certain words and their formations.
When she receives a reply, Vivian embraces the idea of friendship, despite initial reservations, and travels outside her comfort zone.

Report available

go further

  • Author’s biography

    Caitriona Lally studied English Literature in Trinity College Dublin. She has had colourful employment history, working as an abstract writer and a copywriter alongside working as a home help in New York and an English teacher in Japan.

    She has travelled extensively around Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America. Her essay about Grangegorman appeared in a recent issue of We Are Dublin.

    EGGSHELLS was selected as one of 12 finalists in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2014.