Join staff for a book discussion of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Books are available for checkout near the Service Desk.
About the Author
Gail Honeyman was raised in central Scotland and as a child could be found in the library, she says, "a ridiculous number of times a week." Now in her 40s and author of a big-buzz book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Honeyman still finds herself in the library quite but is much happier to be there.
Honeyman studied French at Glasgow University and did postgraduate studies at Oxford. Deciding against pursuing her Ph.D., she ended up in working in university administration for a number of years. After a good number of years, the writing bug bit, and she enrolled in writing classes at Britain's well-known Faber Academy.
When not at her day job, Honeyman wrote—mornings, nights and weekends—all of which paid off handsomely. She entered and won competitions, and in 2015, her book was in the object of an eight-way tug of war among publishers. It was the talk of the town at that year's Frankfurt Book Fair and earned Honeyman a seven figure advance.
For anyone curious about how it feels to publish a first novel at 45, here's what Honeyman says:
It's one of those jobs where the more life experience you have, the better—so it's absolutely not a handicap to be older.… A bit of perspective and life experience isn't a bad thing. Anyway, if you start a new career at 40, you've still got another 35 years to go.
(Author bio adapted from an article in The Guardian.)
About the Book
No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office.
When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes.
The only way to survive is to open your heart. (From the publisher.)
Book Discussion Questions
1. Can you picture yourself being friends with Eleanor?
2. Without any female friends or relatives to relate to, where does Eleanor derive her concept of what it means to be a woman?
3. The men and women at Eleanor's workplace don't make an effort to be compassionate and understanding of her. How do you think you would have treated Eleanor if she had been your work colleague? What do you think the world is like for those who are often seen as 'different' or difficult'? 4. When Eleanor talks to her mother once a week despite the past and present emotional abuse she inflicts on her, did you find yourself wondering why she continues to do so?
5. What does Raymond find appealing about Eleanor? And why does Eleanor feel comfortable opening up to Raymond? What is interesting about their interaction?
6. What are the first signs that Eleanor is starting to see life from a hopeful perspective? What are some other pivotal experiences that cause Eleanor to grow?
7. Eleanor has no social reference from which to interact with others. Yet, she suddenly decides she can have a meaningful personal encounter with a Rockstar she's never even met. How does her chosen “project” change the direction of her life?
8. What are the different ways that the novel's title could be interpreted? What do you think happens to Eleanor after the book ends?
9. Eleanor is one of the most unusual protagonists in recent fiction, and some of her opinions and actions are very funny. What were your favorite moments in the novel?