“Eleanor is hilarious. Her clear eyed and objective observations made me laugh out loud more than once – I ended up reading bits to my husband and kids because they were just so funny.”
“Eleanor is hilarious. Her clear eyed and objective observations made me laugh out loud more than once – I ended up reading bits to my husband and kids because they were just so funny.” up reading bits to my husband and kids because they were just so funny.
This for example, when Eleanor has decided to improve her appearance, ‘Makeup artist: “Do you like a smokey eye?” Eleanor: “I don’t like anything to do with smoking.”’ Eleanor decides to makes some changes in her life when she falls in love with a local pop star. But the real changes occur when she starts to let people into her life. As the novel progresses we learn more about Eleanor’s past… I defy anyone to read this book without their eyes welling up at least once!
Gail Honeyman’s story also reads like a work of fiction. Turning forty gave her the motivation to write a novel. She wrote ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ whilst working full time. Before the novel was finished she won the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award and has since won the Costa first novel prize. The film rights have been purchased by Reese Witherspoon’s production company – causing much speculation among the book club as to which actress would make a good Eleanor!
‘Makeup artist: “Do you like a smokey eye?” Eleanor: “I don’t like anything to do with smoking.”’
But what inspired Gail Honeyman to write this book? According to an interview with BBC Radio 4, it was while listening to a programme about loneliness. People generally associate loneliness with older people, but Honeyman was struck by the story of a woman in her late twenties who worked full time in a big city – but at weekends saw nobody at all.
This was the catalyst for the character of Eleanor. This is a book with a real core of empathy – and kindness. The take out for me was that we can really change people’s lives with small acts of kindness. ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ is one of the spearhead novels of a new trend that publishers are calling ‘uplit’ – books that are optimistic and empathetic.
This is not just a reaction to the grim realities of today’s world, but also a backlash against the ‘griplit’ that has taken hold (pardon the pun) of the publishing world in recent years. Any book that makes you think about what it means to be human and how we should perhaps try to understand others a little bit more definitely gets my vote – especially when it is as readable, funny and moving as ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’.
What did members of the Expat Book Club say about this book? ‘I didn’t want to finish it!’ ‘Eleanor Oliphant … I loved this book’ ‘Loved it. Especially the first half that made me laugh and feel uncomfortable in equal measure’.
The Expat Book Club verdict? 90% of our readers loved it and would recommend this book. At times laugh out loud funny, at times heartbreakingly sad, it’s a novel that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page. This book gave us a lot to talk about, and by the end of the story I think everyone in the book club was rooting for Eleanor.
Other books by female authors that have got us talking: Maggie O’Farrell, ‘This Must Be The Place’ If you haven’t yet read any Maggie O’Farrell then you’re in for a treat. This is her seventh novel and, for me, her best. It’s a sprawling tale of a marriage in decline and it jumps from decade to decade, and country to country.
I loved the authenticity of the different characters’ voices and the wonderfully astute observations about a relationship going off the rails.
At the centre of the story is a former film star turned recluse and her husband. But I also think that, at its heart, this is a story about the search for home and all that ‘home’ means…which any expat can relate to. I found this moving, funny and searingly honest. One of those books that was such a pleasure to read that, afterwards, I didn’t want to pick anything else up for a little while.
Liane Moriarty, ‘Big Little Lies’ This is the first Liane Moriarty book I have read – and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s funny and the characterisation is absolutely spot on. Part of the fun of reading this, for me, was thinking which of my school Mum friends best resembled the characters…
And to crowbar another ‘expatism’ in there … it’s a good reminder that, when you meet someone new – be kind! You never know what’s going on with them. OK, that’s not really an ‘expatism’, but there is a character here who moves somewhere new, and not everyone is welcoming.
I think we can probably all relate to that. And yes, it’s now a massive TV series. But, as is so often the case the book is so much better What is The Expat Book Club? The Expat Book Club is an online community connecting women living overseas through a shared love of reading.
As the Expat www.makingherehome.com/expat-book-club/
The Expat Book Club – A community for book lovers living overseas
The Expat Book Club is an online community for women to connect via a love of books. Wherever you’re from, wherever you’re living, you’re welcome here!