The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

Book notes | Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

July 22, 2022, at 2pm

Members of UMRA’s Fourth Friday Book Club enjoyed a lively discussion of Gail Honeyman’s prize-winning debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine when they met via Zoom on July 22. The group was especially impressed by the author’s ability to create an unreliable narrator and other quirky characters. 

Eleanor’s humorous description of herself as a lonely and socially awkward young woman is, at first, amusing, but the clues pile up as we gradually discover the circumstances that impacted her development and difficulties with other people. Negative encounters with co-workers and an abusive boyfriend are painful experiences that lead to depression and despair.

Fortunately, a chance encounter with the office IT guy, Raymond, becomes an opportunity to extend assistance to an injured man on the sidewalk and get him to the hospital. When the grateful family befriends Eleanor, she finds kindness and love. An understanding therapist gives Eleanor support as she recaptures the mystery of her traumatic childhood. 

Members of the book club remarked on how friendship and care, combined with Eleanor’s optimism and intelligence, give her the strength to face the truth so that she can live a happier and more fulfilling life.

One of members warmly recommended the audiobook version with the award-winning reader Cathleen McCarron, who voices the various characters in their Scottish accents. Also noted, there will be a film based on the book, produced by Reese Witherspoon.

—Margaret Catambay, UMRA Fourth Friday Book Club member




Fourth Friday Book Club to meet July 22

Fri, Jul 22 2022, 2pm

Event will be held via Zoom.

The life of an outsider is vividly captured in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, a debut novel that was discovered through a writing competition and quickly became a worldwide best seller.

UMRA’s Fourth Friday Book Club (aka Book Club II) will meet to discuss the book from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22. We continue to meet via Zoom, which has worked well for us the past year-and-a half.

The central character in the #1 New York Times bestseller is Eleanor Oliphant. Most workplaces have an Eleanor, someone who is slightly odd, who rarely says a word that is not about the matter in hand, whose home life can only be speculated about and not always kindly. For nine years, Eleanor is at the same workplace and has a home life that seems clear, orderly, and completely empty. From the time she leaves work on Friday until her Monday arrival at the office, there is no contact, no conversation, the entire period. 

And yet, both profound loneliness and the apparent isolation gradually diminish as the novel progresses. 

Loneliness has center stage

The theme of loneliness has center stage, and Eleanor, as the central character, is hilarious. How to explain that? Without social interaction, understanding clues to appropriate behavior is very difficult. And so it is with Eleanor. She functions in a highly unpredictable way that we come to understand as heroic. 

Who among us is without a portion of Eleanor?

Published in 2017, the novel received the “Costa Debut Novel Award” and the “Debut Book of the Year” and “Overall Winner” honors at The British Book Awards.

Whether you are new (or old) to book clubs, feel free to attend. Our discussions never disappoint.

Contact Dorothy Marden or Margaret Catambay for more information including how to join the Zoom meeting.

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