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Eva Moves the Furniture: A Novel Hardcover – September 11, 2001

66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After Criminals and The Missing World, it should be no surprise that the immensely talented Livesey continues to juxtapose strange events with mundane daily activities, sending a jolt through her ordinary characters and settings. The wonder is that she can draw readers into her world so gently that the barriers between reality and the fantastic quickly fall. The first time the narrator Eva McEwen sees her "companions" she is six, and living near the Scottish town of Troon with her middle-aged father and her aunt, who came to raise Eva after her mother died in childbed. Though much loved, Eva is lonely, and when a woman who "shone as if she had been dipped in silver" and a young girl with long braids and freckles appear one afternoon in the garden, she is at first unaware that they are not corporeal. The companions, as she comes to call them, are not visible to others, however, and their purpose in her life seems unclear. Twice they save her from fatal harm; twice they destroy a romance; often they are comforting; sometimes they signal their presence by moving furniture. Eva works as a nurse in a Glasgow infirmary during WWII, but the burden of her secret keeps her from achieving intimacy with anyone. When she does confide in a man she loves, a brilliant surgeon, heartbreak ensues. She seeks solace in her mother's native village of Glenaird, where she marries and has a daughter. But in a poignant denouement, the significance of the companions is made clear. With remarkable control, Livesey presents the companions in matter-of-fact detail, eschewing frissons of horror and providing a lucid explanation of their presence. Her restraint and delicacy, and the reader's identification with the appealing Eva, result in a haunting drama. Agent, Amanda Urban. (Sept.)Forecast: An author tour and strong word of mouth should spark this novel's sales. Every mother who yearns to protect her child will relate to Eva and react emotionally to Livesey's moving story.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In a departure from her psychological tales full of menacing undercurrents (Homework, The Missing World), Livesey's latest outing is a deceptively simple coming-of-age story set in small-town Scotland between the wars. Eva McEwen, whose mother dies in childbirth, is lovingly raised by her father and aunt. What sets this ordinary tale slightly off kilter is the presence in Eva's life of two ghosts ("the companions," as she refers to them) a girl and a woman whom, she realizes very early on, only she can see. Although it is clear that the companions are there more for her protection than to cause harm, they seem capable of manipulating events in her life. From Eva's bucolic childhood through young adulthood, working first as an office girl and later as a wartime nurse, from a failed romance to a happy marriage and motherhood, her angel/ghosts are never far away, helping to steer her. But, in the end, as they repeatedly warn her, they are unable to change the course of her history. While it may take some Livesey fans by surprise, this lovely, bittersweet novel should find a warm place in their hearts.
- Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (September 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805068015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805068016
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,437,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margot Livesey is the acclaimed author of the novels The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. The House on Fortune Street won the 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award. Livesey was born in Scotland and grew up on the edge of the Highlands. She lives in the Boston area and is a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on October 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
On the surface at least, Eva MacEwen, the protagonist in Eva Moves the Furniture, is an ordinary woman who leads an ordinary life. Her mother dies shortly after she is born and she is raised by her aunt and father. She grows up in a small Scottish town and eventually moves away to study nursing and falls in love. Eva's story, however, is not ordinary for two important reasons. First, she is visited, at a very young age, by her "companions", two ghosts who come in and out of her life, helping, interfering, meddling. Second, the story is told by Margot Livesey who is quite an extraordinary storyteller. She breaths life into this "ghost" story so that it is interesting, moving and subtly emotional. Eva is as surprised by these ghosts as we are and her narration is wonderfully understated. I truly loved this novel. There was something almost comforting about reading it. While it is a story about Eva's life, it is also the story of the love we have for our families and how absolutely powerful that love is. The final pages moved me to tears without a scintilla of sentimentality. Ms. Livesey is truly talented. I recently finished The Missing World, and, while I loved both novels, each is completely different. Enjoy this one.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on November 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Too bad I can only give this book five stars...
Morgot Livesey's newest novel chronicles the life of Eva McEwan, told by the character in the form of a memoir. We are there at her birth, and we witness -- after the appearance of 6 magpies, a dark omen -- the death of her mother that very night. We see her grow, under the loving care of her father David and her aunt Lily, blessed with an uncomplicated childhood in the small village of Troon, Scotland -- uncomplicated, that is, but for her two companions. They appear as if out of nowhere, and vanish just as mysteriously. As she comes to know them -- a middle-aged woman and a young girl -- it dawns upon Eva that no one else can see them. They are with her, on and off, throughout her life.
The story of her life is a touching one, filled with the events that one might expect -- school, making and losing friends, choosing a career, successes and failures, romances. What sets this novel apart from many others, for me, is not just the skill and care with which Livesey develops her characters, but her respect for them. Time and again I've read books that were spoiled by the author's irritating insistance on assigning attributes to characters that seem -- well, out of character for them. Livesey has the respect for her characters -- and the good sense -- to keep them real and true to themselves.
Those who people this story are lovingly engendered -- Livesey is extremely adept, through both voicing and observation, in creating believable, whole characters with whom I had absolutely no trouble empathizing. Her skill in this area gave the book a much greater impact.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bruce J. Miller on September 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a novel that lives in your mind like a poem. It's a ghost story, a coming of age novel, a book about love and death. It is difficult to put the book down, once you have begun reading. Right away you like Eva, the narrator, and empathize with her loneliness, and her struggle to live her own life, to make a living.
The spirits who have visited her since she was a baby--"the woman" and "the girl"-- are ghostly projections of family. They help and hurt, they're jealous, selfish, selfless all at once just like real mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Eva's Scotland is a nether world of spirits. They seem to like the granite cities and the hills.
At one level the book poses the question: how can human beings live their own lives while doing justice to those who give us life and help us?
But EVA MOVES THE FURNITURE is also an absorbing story. You want to know what is going to happen when Eva, working as a nurse in Edinburgh during WW II, falls in love with a surgeon.
The author has a keen sense of history. Most of the action of the novel takes place before and during the war, but there is not a false note in the entire book. It is utterly convincing in its historical setting.
At the end of the novel, Eva discovers who the ghosts were during their time as living persons. Eva knows herself at this point, too.
You finish the book with an "ah Bartleby, ah humanity" kind of feeling.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By NurseMare VINE VOICE on August 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story will break your heart.

It is so perfectly beautiful that writing this review is an amazing challenge.

The story is told in first person narrative by Eva McEwen a lonely girl whose mother died in childbirth. She is adored by her widower father and her aunt, who has come to help raise her. Though beloved by her family, she is lonely, friendless, and very isolated. When she is six years old the "companions" visit her for the first time.

From her childhood through her adult life we watch Eva mature and grow into a woman, eventually becoming a nurse during WWII in Scotland. The companions are with her from start to finish.

Are they good or are they evil? You'll have to read the book to find out.

This gut-wrenching story is one you won't be able to put down until the last page. I sat silently for several minutes after the last line of the book - it had such a great impact. This book is a keeper.
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