I adored this book. It’s a new addition to my favorites shelf. The downside is that I have the worst book hangover I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine beinI adored this book. It’s a new addition to my favorites shelf. The downside is that I have the worst book hangover I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine being as satisfied with my next book as I was with this one.
I read this for a seasonal read (my nomination choice) with my favorite Goodreads group (so far no discussion but I hope for one) and also as a buddy read with my Goodreads friend Laura. When she saw I was starting it she offered to reread it with me; she’d very recently read it. We exchanged some wonderful emails about it and I had so much fun reading it with her. It was actually a difficult book to read as a buddy read for an unusual reason: there was too much on nearly every page to discuss, too many times to remember when I laughed out loud or almost did and wanted to share, too much to talk about on most pages. I don’t remember ever having that frustration with previous buddy read books, at least not to this extent.
At some point I didn’t want to stop reading until I finished it but I dreaded getting to the end. It was that riveting.
The story is simultaneously laugh out loud hilarious and tragically sad, and it really works.
I don’t understand why so many readers have shelved this as chick lit. Even though there is a major shift in tone/content halfway through, though it never loses its sense of humor, from the start it’s easy to tell through the humor that Eleanor’s life and background have been tragically sad and the story does go deep in its way. I’d love a sequel and I’d have loved even more (though I was surprised how satisfied I was by the end and therefore by the book as a whole) but for me the story is perfect as it is. I will be rereading it. It is one that will be fun to read already knowing everything that will happen.
Eleanor is a unique and incredibly memorable character. She is quirky but entirely believable. I found her to be very endearing, even when I cringed and found her exasperating. She is the way she is for a very good reason. Raymond is a great character too, and there are other interesting characters as well, including one non-human character who makes an appearance fairly late in the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Glasgow Scotland setting and the many included British English words.
It’s well written and it’s such a quotable book. The problem was I wanted to include many dozens of quotes, many long passages and one entire page. Not possible. I also didn’t want to stop reading long enough to write down quotes I loved. (Here are just a couple: “When the silence and the aloneness press down and around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes, if only for proof of life.” and “You can’t have too much dog in a book.” and also something about happiness feeling like “swallowing sunshine” – but there were many dozens of passages I wanted to get down as part of my GR review, some even better than these, though some would have needed context to fully understand why they’re so good.)
It’s such a special book. It’s a brilliantly told story. I love how Eleanor’s story slowly unfolds. Nothing rang false to me. I guessed almost right away everything the reader was meant to guess, except for one thing revealed near the end that I didn’t at all see coming. Perhaps I should have but I didn’t. I appreciated it though and I have no significant criticisms of the book as a whole. The ending, the beginning, even the entire story seems perfect, now that I know the reasons for the plot inclusions. Nothing in the book is a contrived device; there is a compelling reason for absolutely every word in it. It’s an incredibly skillfully told story.
I loved this book from the first couple lines to the very end. (Some readers say it took them a few chapters to start enjoying it but that wasn’t true for me. I laughed out loud for the first time on page 5. Some readers don’t like the end and I worried that I also wouldn’t the entire time I was reading, but I don’t think I could have chosen a more perfect resolution.) There was one part of the story I didn’t enjoy that much as I was reading it (the musician) but even that ended up being handled incredibly skillfully.
I hope this author writes many more books. I’ll be on the lookout for her future books!
This is a really great discussion book, at least for readers that enjoy this book’s humor and those who like character studies with a psychological focus.
I desperately want to recommend this book to so many people I know but I would feel badly if they didn’t love it at least half as much as I did. That’s all that would be necessary since I adored it.
A few big spoilers to be read by those who’ve read the book, especially those who would like to discuss it. (view spoiler)[
I am not sure why some do not like the ending. I think it was perfect and psychologically sound.
I had wondered whether Eleanor has talked to mummy every Wednesday from age 10 on or whether those phone calls started after care or during university or when.
I think Eleanor and definitely Raymond are heroes. Raymond is the most wonderful guy. Though his smoking did drive me crazy. I’d like to think he will quit. Eleanor certainly made major changes so perhaps he can make that change. Yes, I feel as though these characters are real and I care about them.
I think Eleanor and Raymond will end up together but I admire how the author left that relationship open for future development. As far as children, I can see there being at least a 50% chance. I can see it working.
I love how Raymond presented Glen the cat to Eleanor, not asking, just bringing, but also giving her an out saying his mother could take her.
I loved page 294. The real Eleanor is likeable!
Such smart hints. I will have to read it again to know everything about Eleanor’s mother. Gosh everything makes so much sense by the end. Including going from 1 to 2 times a week with the therapist, another character I really liked.
So much to talk about re Eleanor as a child and as an adult, Raymond, Maria the therapist, Raymond’s mother, mummy & Marianne, Sammy, though there wasn’t as much of him in there as I’d expected, Laura, Keith too, and Eleanor’s boss and coworkers. (hide spoiler)]...more