Book notes | Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
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
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.
We will meet at the Mel-O-Glaze bakery on 28th and Minnehaha Parkway and walk to Minnehaha Falls and then back again.
Some of the most valuable and rare maps in the world are held in UMN's own James Ford Bell Library, housed in Andersen Library See https://www.lib.umn.edu/collections/special/bell .
The first meeting of UMRA’s Family History Interest Group for 2023–24 will feature a presentation by Marilyn DeLong about sharing family stories and learning surprising family connections.
UMRA has a special opportunity to engage with the four newest members of the U of M Board of Regents on Wednesday, October 4, via Zoom. The purpose of the event is to share our perspectives as former University employees.
All UMRA members with an interest in photography are welcome to attend the meeting of the UMRA Photo Club on Tuesday, October 10. We welcome photographers of all abilities. Most of us are struggling amateurs. We laugh a lot and learn from sharing and talking about our pictures.
The walk along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is always changing, with many attractions being added along both sides of the river and, now, the beautiful fall colors.
UMRA’s workshop on Open Enrollment for U of M retiree health plans for 2024 will include a briefing on the choice between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans, by Jeff Snegosky of BCBS of Minnesota, followed by an overview of the U of M’s retiree health insurance plans, by Katie Kolodge from the Office of Human Resources.
Mary Jane Towle will lead the discussion of The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.
To help us understand the growing movement in the U.S. to ban books, especially children’s literature, and the critical role of libraries to protect intellectual freedom, UMRA will welcome U of M Librarian Lisa Von Drasek (pictured) and Rochester Public Librarian Kimberly Edson as the guest speakers for our October luncheon forum at Midland Hills.
The Fourth Friday Book Club will meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CDT on October 27 to discuss the life and narrative of Frederick Douglass.
Join us for a 5 mile moderately paced hike around Pleasant Lake located in the heart of North Oaks. It takes us past some of James J. Hill’s original farm buildings as well as beautiful homes built along the lakeshore. The trail is wide, generally flat and consists of packed dirt and crushed rock.
The documents noted for this event specify your managers and can minimize income taxes now, and estate taxes.
The material world we live in is shaped by design. While popular discussions of design typically focus on fashion and furniture, design is fundamental in art, architecture, and indeed nearly all aspects of the everyday world around us. Goldstein Museum of Design curator Jean McElvain will demonstrate and discuss some of the fascinating and often unexpected holdings before we walk through the current gallery exhibit.
Get an insider's perspective on Santa Fe and Taos alongside local artists, exploring the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, enjoying traditional music and learning about native cultures. The deadline for reserving a space is June 2, 2023.
Please join us for an invigorating hike from The Monument located at the intersection of Mississippi RIver Blvd and Summit Avenue in St. Paul to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and back. This hike is on paved trails, approximately 5.5 miles in length, and will be at a pace suitable to the weather.