EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
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MODERN CLASSICS/POPULAR READS > Eleanor Oliphant... - *SPOILERS*

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Sarah Discussion for June 2018 selection.
From the Modern Classic/Popular Reads category: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Discussion will include spoilers.


message 2: by Kristin B. (last edited Jun 08, 2018 05:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristin B. Bodreau (krissy22247) | -2 comments I really enjoyed this book. Learning about Eleanor's past in bits and pieces was so interesting and heartbreaking.

I enjoyed the exploration of mental illness and how well it was handled. I also really loved watching Eleanor grow as a person. As the novel progressed she became more and more comfortable with people and being able to accept help.

Is it strange that I was really upset about Polly the houseplant dying?

Is anyone planning on seeing the movie when it eventually comes out? Reese Witherspoon seems like a decent choice for Eleanor.


Ekiamx I finished it a couple of days ago and really liked it too!
Although it of course deals with a lot of heavy topics, it still felt like a very easy read for me.

Did you guys see the twist with the mother and the phone calls coming? I must say i didn't, but after i read it and thought about it, i felt like there definitly were some clues.

And yes i'm planning to see the film, just because i'm super curious how they will transform all the things in the book and how they'll portray everyone! I have a very clear picture of both Eleanor and Raymond in my mind so that will be interesting to see!


Catie Currie | 97 comments I koved this book, I made everybody in my life that I knew liked to read, read it. I loved how it was both hilarious and deep at the same time. I didn't see the twist about the mother at all! I am notoriously bad about guessing plot twists though haha. I'm excited for the movie too!! I'd be interested to see if people thought Eleanor was on the spectrum. As someone who works in the field of special ed with a particular focus on children with autism, autism and recognizing autism is a big part of my life. I personally don't believe she has it, I think all of the symptoms she displays can be traced back to her trauma, but I'd be curious as to what other people think.


message 5: by Honore (new) - added it

Honore | 175 comments So I only managed to make it through about 100 pages before putting it down. I really was not interested in Eleanor as a character.
Also, in the beginning when they are establishing that she is being social awkward with co-workers, bartenders, etc., for the most part I didin't find her interaction to be too weird. I could tell that she was not typical, but I didin't think she was particularly strange.
Glad to read that people are enjoying reading it. I look forward to hearing about how the plot progresses, without having to read another 100 pages.


Brandy | 12 comments 3.5 ⭐️
I liked the book quite a bit. The only reason for 3.5 stars instead of 4 is that I would have very little interest in reading it again. The beginning was slow and a bit hard to “get” the characters (what is with her coworkers, anyway?). About a third of the way through, it started to grow on me. By the time I was a little more than half way through, I didn’t want to put it down. Overall, a good book.
PS. A movie? Yes, please 🎬


Karen | 127 comments It took awhile for Eleanor to grow on me, but I think I am to blame because I kept comparing her to the main character in Fredrik Backman's book 'Britt-Marie Was Here'.

I agree with Catie. I have worked with quite a few students who were on the spectrum, and I think Eleanor's social awkwardness stems from her horrific childhood. (On the other hand, Britt-Marie is definitely on the spectrum!)

I gave it 4 stars. A bit slow at the beginning, but once she and Raymond started going to see Sammy, I was hooked.

To Kristin B.- I was upset about Polly too! Like Eleanor, I love plants, but I get completely distracted, and they suffer. This scene was even more painful because I was aware of all that the 2 had survived together.

And to Maike, "no" I didn't see it coming. The phone calls never made sense to me, but that twist shocked me. I was actually relieved to know that Eleanor was not being tormented by her Mummy on a weekly basis.


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sue This isn't the sort of book I would usually pick up, so I'm trying to be open minded with my review. And I so appreciate having this group to introduce me to exactly this sort of book!

I did see the twist with Mummy early on. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, so I think I've gotten used to looking for odd twists like that. I wish I could say that Mummy's actions regarding the fire were unbelievable, but sadly there are often news stories of horrible, deadly abuse from parents to children. I think the most interesting part of the whole book was this: What happens to the children who survive that level of abuse in childhood?

Eleanor definitely grew on me over the course of the book. My favorite character was Raymond. He reminded me of many of the IT people I've encountered in my life - a little sloppy and eccentric, but extremely accepting of other people.


Jessica | 26 comments I got to chapter 3 on this book and I couldn't finish it. I didn't care for the writing or the character. She didn't seem believable to me, nor relatable in anyway I could understand, especially as an introvert myself. It felt to me as if it was written by an extrovert who only thinks they know what an introvert means. Not to mention the writing just sounded like someone trying to be a good writer, but someone who actually isn't. I wouldn't call myself a harsh critic of books, but I had to return this one. I lost interest early on and couldn't bring myself to finish.


Kristin B. Bodreau (krissy22247) | -2 comments Karen wrote: "It took awhile for Eleanor to grow on me, but I think I am to blame because I kept comparing her to the main character in Fredrik Backman's book 'Britt-Marie Was Here'.

I agree with Catie. I have..."


I was telling my friend about this book the other day and I literally said "the main character is like Britt-Marie." (Though I've only read her in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry. I haven't read Britt-Marie Was Here yet.)


Catie Currie | 97 comments That's so funny! I was trying to tell my friend about Britt-Marie by comparing her to Eleanor :P And Karen, I'm glad someone else has that perspective. No one in my life who's read it has any experience with people on the spectrum so it's kind of hard to have a conversation about that element of it


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 88 comments Jessica wrote: "I got to chapter 3 on this book and I couldn't finish it. I didn't care for the writing or the character. She didn't seem believable to me, nor relatable in anyway I could understand, especially as..."

I'm still reading this and I wasn't into it either. Eleanor seems a bit too odd for me to relate to in any way, but I'm still reading it. I'll let you know if my opinion changes.


Tawnee (won_tawn78) | 24 comments I listened to this audiobook earlier this year and totally loved it! I found it humorous and heartbreaking all at the same time. I really liked Eleanor. Maybe because she was so different than any other character that I have ever read. I figured out the sister portion, but only partially figured out the mummy twist.


Mariana | 542 comments I started it today and made it to chapter 5. Are grown people of more than 20sthg that mean and childish? I understand that something happened to her to make her childish but the rest behave like teens.


Jessica | 26 comments Charley Girl wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I got to chapter 3 on this book and I couldn't finish it. I didn't care for the writing or the character. She didn't seem believable to me, nor relatable in anyway I could understan..."

Yeah let me know! I just couldn't do it. I think I would have stuck with it despite not relating to the character (as I know that is not always possible) if the writing was better. Just not my taste.


Kristin B. Bodreau (krissy22247) | -2 comments Mariana wrote: "I started it today and made it to chapter 5. Are grown people of more than 20sthg that mean and childish? I understand that something happened to her to make her childish but the rest behave like t..."

I work in an office. I can confirm that a lot of my coworkers are in fact this mean and childish. Sad, but true. Most of us compare it to high school on a pretty regular basis.


Mariana | 542 comments Kristin B. wrote: "Mariana wrote: "I started it today and made it to chapter 5. Are grown people of more than 20sthg that mean and childish? I understand that something happened to her to make her childish but the re..."

I feel for you, it's really sad and energy consuming being among petty people who can't relate to others and be happy for their success or happiness


Alison (ajanteau) | 20 comments I had a really hard time starting this one. I wasn't connecting with the character, the story was slow. But once Raymond started showing up more I got more and more into it. It was fun to watch Eleanor grow. At first I had a hard time picking up the book to continue on, but then I had a hard time putting it down.

I didn't find Eleanor to be all that strange, just very misunderstood. Sure, a little weird, but not overly so. I found I often found I agreed or identified with what she said. "She was shiny too, her skin, her hair, her shoes, her teeth. I hadn't even realized it before; I am matte, dull and scuffed." Yep. I hear ya Eleanor.

I am so happy the ending didn't turn into the cliche romance. Was there potential? Sure. Maybe. But it wasn't the right time for Raymond and Eleanor. Raymond gave Eleanor a family and human connection. I was worried the author was going to end it with romance, since that's what books tend to do. This ending felt right.


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 2 comments I loved this book. I used to work with someone like Eleanor (in an office) and all the situations were so familiar and true they hurt. I loved Raymond. If Witherspoon turns it into a movie I hope the setting remains in Scotland. Raymond seems very much the typical casual scruffy Brit/Scot who loves a pint. I can't imagine him American. I liked how Honeyman kept the book humorous and didn't make Eleanor's past depressing (sad yes, but I never really felt maudlin). It reminded me a lot of Whispers Through a Megaphone at times. I'd recommend that book if you liked this one. 5 out of 5 for me.


Hectaizani Picked my copy up from the library last night. Got to chapter 9 so it's still early days. I'm not sure how I feel about the characters yet. Eleanor is definitely awkward and it's hard to connect with her. I can't figure out Raymond's motives in his attempts to befriend Eleanor. Maybe I'm being cynical because the rest of the people in her office are just so awful.


Hectaizani Lee wrote: "I loved this book. I used to work with someone like Eleanor (in an office) and all the situations were so familiar and true they hurt. I loved Raymond. If Witherspoon turns it into a movie I hope t..."

Thanks for the recommendation of Whispers Through a Megaphone it looks interesting I'm going to add it to my someday list.

I'm being reminded of 600 Hours of Edward which I thought was really good.

As I'm getting further into the book I'm less suspicious of Raymond. He seems to just be a nice guy and he gets jumpy anytime Eleanor mentions having a man in her sights. She means the musician guy but I could see where Raymond would get the wrong impression.


Shelley | 109 comments I read this book last year. I liked it, but didn't love it. It could make a very good movie, though. I know (for certain) only a few autistic people, and each has been a child/teen. So, while it did not occur to me when I read the book that Eleanor might be autistic, I can see (looking back) how she might be. I just assumed the tragedy of her childhood resulted in her behavior.

I can vouch for the childishness of adults. It is a sad but true reality in many work places.

I really did like Raymond. I also liked how Eleanor "grew" throughout the book and how her past was revealed slowly. Still, there are other similar books that I have liked better, such as A Man Called Ove and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, although these may not have characters on the spectrum. Another book I really enjoyed that has a character that I assume has asperger's is The Rosie Project. Ginny Moon (the main character is, I believe autistic) is good as well.


Ilene | 5 comments Loved this book! When I first picked it up I really didn't think I was going to like this book at all. I thought it was going to be some dumb book about how some socially awkward girl needs a man to help her figure things out. But it definitely wasn't that.
I loved the humor and the interactions Eleanor had with others. It was a fun read, while also dealing with mental health.
I related well to Eleanor, her social awkwardness, desire to be alone, even her eczema!
I enjoyed Raymond too, he is a male character that isn't portrayed in books very often or at least portrayed in a positive light. I really liked the simple quiet care he gave to his family and friends. He didn't expect anything in return. We need more Raymond's out there!
I am definitely recommending this book to my family and friends.


Satrina T | 348 comments I really liked this book.

Raymond was my favorite character for his easygoing gentle caring ways.

I saw the Marianne twist coming but I did not see the Mummy twist coming.


message 25: by Honore (new) - added it

Honore | 175 comments So, as someone who is not going to finish this book, but is interested in how the plot turned out....... what is the Mummy twist?


Ekiamx Honore wrote: "So, as someone who is not going to finish this book, but is interested in how the plot turned out....... what is the Mummy twist?"

It turns out that Eleanor's mother actually died (in the fire that she set to the house when Eleanor was a child) and that the phone calls therefore weren't real but conversations Eleanor made up in her mind.


message 27: by Mariana (last edited Jun 18, 2018 07:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mariana | 542 comments Finished yesterday, I enjoyed it but early in the book I could foresee Marianne and that Mummy set the fire on purpose. The twist was revealed almost at the end when she's assertive about saying goodbye to Mummy and comments that she never contacts her, Mummy does all the time. That was the final piece I needed to know that Sharon was dead and her evilness traumatized Eleanor so much that kept coming back on her. So the final chapters were not a surprise or had a twist for me. Good book either way.


Hectaizani All in all, I enjoyed this book. I started out suspicious of Raymond's motivations but soon realized that he was just an actual nice guy. I guess that's a rare enough quality that I have difficulty recognizing it. I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction I'm more of a horror and sci fi kinda gal. Eleanor was a little bit of an enigma but I liked that she said exactly what she thought. I can get behind that.

I figured out the mommy twist really early on. I knew that she had set the fire and that she was gone and that the conversations were all in Eleanor's head. Not sure what led me to that conclusion exactly though. It was really sad about her sister.

Without this group, I would never have picked up this book in a million years. I'd never even heard of it before it showed up in the poll. So I'm grateful to ERTBM for helping me broaden my reading outside my norm.


Zainab Al Lawati (zainaballawati) | 224 comments Kristin B. wrote: "Mariana wrote: "I started it today and made it to chapter 5. Are grown people of more than 20sthg that mean and childish? I understand that something happened to her to make her childish but the re..."

Interesting! To me the workers' childlessness irritated me a lot. I also found it unbelievable and I work in an office too! I guess I should appreciate my workplace more then :D

To me adults can certainly be mean as teens; however, they are adult enough to understand it is wrong to be mean so they hide it. Maybe gossip when the person is not in front of them, but certainly not in the way they treated Eleanor!

On another point: did anyone find Raymond way nicer than a normal human being? Well yes he is likable because he was really nice, too nice (as was said in the book). And I really appreciate his character and his very kind and helpful soul, but, I find it hard to believe anyone would be this nice to another stranger (e.g. inviting her to his mom house, while barely knowing her).

One more thing: how come therapy wasn’t compulsory for her?You can't leave a child after going through something like this without at least few therapy sessions to make sure she is dealing with it correctly.

I am not sure of the systems across the world and in Scotland specifically, but I was hoping that "modern countries" are better educated on dealing with foster kids and trauma.


Jacqueline In my experience I’ve found that adults are still children mostly. Some still act like it and others are just better at covering it. Or suppressing it altogether. But basically most adults are just kids who are hoping that nobody notices this because we’re supposed to be all mature when we’re older. Maturity is overrated if you ask me and only something for the young to aspire to. I like to break out my inner child every now and then. Or is it the child lets its inner adult out. I think that’s more it. I can adult with the best of them but I don’t want to do it all the time. My 90 year old father in law is like a child a lot of the time. A petulant one. And he’s still got all of his faculties too. And I thought bringing up kids was hard. 90 year old ones are the WORST.

If you want to see adult childish behaviour just look inside many of the Parliaments of the world. All politicians are children and Parliament/council chambers etc are one big playground. I say this from many years dealing with politicians.

I believe that Raymond picked a human he thought needed him and who he could be friends with and ran with it. They are out there. I once lived in a very small town where everyone was “too nice” and it felt creepy. At one point I thought I was in a Stephen King novel lol I got to know them and they were just really nice people.


PattyMacDotComma I quite enjoyed Eleanor and thought perhaps it was more her mother's influence rather than being on the autism spectrum that caused her odd behaviour. Sometimes it IS Mummy's fault! I reviewed it here last year, if anyone is interested.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Hannah At times this book had me laughing and at others on the edge of tears, I like books that are able to do that. I enjoyed the main character and whilst reading the book hadn't been thinking of her as autistic, but rather affected by her horrific childhood and social isolation in adult life. The theme of loneliness and the effect it can have on a person's life and mental health over time (and the fact it can affect anyone not just older people!) seems very poignant today. I liked the simple but powerful message of the importance of small acts of kindness and treating people with an open mind.


Kristin B. Bodreau (krissy22247) | -2 comments Zainab wrote: "One more thing: how come therapy wasn’t compulsory for her?You can't leave a child after going through something like this without at least few therapy sessions to make sure she is dealing with it correctly.
..."


I don't know about Scotland, but I have experience with the foster system in the US. My family took in foster kids when I was a teenager and we ended up adopting some. My husband was also in foster care most of his childhood. What I can tell you is that everyone in social services is overworked, underpaid and under-trained. The abuse that these kids came from is unimaginable, but the system just doesn't have enough resources to deal with it. There were some counseling services, but they weren't compulsory and a lot of times my mom had to beg to get services that these kids needed. I can totally see how someone like Eleanor could fall through the cracks. Especially as she didn't have anyone advocating for her and she just kept saying everything was fine.


PattyMacDotComma Kristin B. wrote: "Zainab wrote: "One more thing: how come therapy wasn’t compulsory for her?You can't leave a child after going through something like this without at least few therapy sessions to make sure she is d..."

I agree, Kristin, that the combination of lack of resources and her outward appearance of coping probably put her at the end of the list of kids to worry about. When there aren't enough people to protect kids with bruises and broken limbs, it's easy for the kids with bruised hearts and broken spirits to be patted on the head, at best.


Zainab Al Lawati (zainaballawati) | 224 comments Jacqueline wrote: "In my experience I’ve found that adults are still children mostly. Some still act like it and others are just better at covering it. Or suppressing it altogether. But basically most adults are just..."

I know most adults are acting as mature while they are not. But this "acting" is what make them adults, the ones in the story did not even try to hide it.
But then when you mentioned politicians, I don't think I can come with a comback to their behaviour.

Also, about the “too nice” thing, I know many countries are too nice to strangers, tourists, or new comers. But it felt weird to me to act this way towards a local especially that he doesn’t know anything about her inner struggles. While I still feel Reymond like beings are very uncommon, I am sure they exist somewhere in this world, and I guess Eleanor was lucky to meet him.

Kristin B. and PattyMacDotComma: It is so sad to hear about the foster system . All I know about it is from the movies, and whatever you have said does align with the image they show. However, I am aware that US has very large population and lots of poverty areas (which quite normal in many countries). But in my mind I always assumed Europe is better in dealing with human rights issues and people are in a better state. Of course, I could be completely wrong.


message 36: by Lory (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lory Sakay | 7 comments Catie wrote: "I koved this book, I made everybody in my life that I knew liked to read, read it. I loved how it was both hilarious and deep at the same time. I didn't see the twist about the mother at all! I am ..."

I read this quite a while ago so don't remember as many details, however I think it could've have been some ASD combined with the trauma...which was definitely excessive and likely exacerbated her responses and withdrawal from emotion. At that point, regardless, the effects from her traumatic childhood definitely impact her more than any previously existing ASD. As I read books like this, I find myself questioning, "I wonder if... " and " Does she do this...?" in an attempt to properly diagnose - lol. As is the case often, always need a bit more information to clearly determine.


Kelly Hansen | 10 comments I loved this book. Eleanor is the best "unreliable narrator" that I've read in a long time.
Funny that some of you mention Britt-Marie, as "My Grandmother Says..." is next on my reading list. Maybe I had better read something else between them.


Kelly Hansen | 10 comments Zainab wrote: "One more thing: how come therapy wasn’t compulsory for her?You can't leave a child after going through something like this without at least few therapy sessions to make sure she is dealing with it correctly."

There is at least one reference to Eleanor having attended group therapy as a child.


Mariana | 542 comments Jacqueline wrote: "In my experience I’ve found that adults are still children mostly. Some still act like it and others are just better at covering it. Or suppressing it altogether. But basically most adults are just..."

I know, it's fantastic to be childish and playful most of the time. What I meant was being mean, the cruel way just teens can be. Of course there are adults who still behave like that, but call it maturing or being an adult, you find it mean and unnecessary. A friend's ex wife is quite like that because of her low self esteem and fears. All she got was a pending divorce and all her husband's friends disliking her for her behaviour. (Divorce it's not so big in my country, you either live together without ever marrying or get married after 30, so you're old enough to know where your shoe is tight).


Zainab Al Lawati (zainaballawati) | 224 comments Kelly wrote: "Zainab wrote: "One more thing: how come therapy wasn’t compulsory for her?You can't leave a child after going through something like this without at least few therapy sessions to make sure she is d..."

Oh, I might have missed that. Thank you


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 88 comments Jessica wrote: "Charley Girl wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I got to chapter 3 on this book and I couldn't finish it. I didn't care for the writing or the character. She didn't seem believable to me, nor relatable in any..."

I got through it and I was pleasantly surprised. Once you get towards the end the beginning and Eleanor's strangeness is understandable. I ended up enjoying it.


Joanne | 5 comments I really enjoyed this book. First of all, I love UK characters and locations, so I knew I'd enjoy it. Secondly, I thought Eleanor was an interesting and very amusing character - her internal dialogue kept me in stitches. I was very pleased that the story did not wrap up perfectly - that Eleanor and Raymond did not go off into the sunset together. Yes, things were looking up for Eleanor, but she still had lots to sort through emotionally - who knows what will happen next?


Lee at ReadWriteWish (leeatreadwritewish) | 2 comments I agree Joanne


Lady Poppy | 21 comments Did anyone else dislike the twist at the end? I thought it was sort of a cop-out. Like "I need a twist so I'll just say the mom was dead all along". It kind of felt like the idea of "it was all a dream all along" and I really hate when stories go out like that.

But I had a hard time getting into the book, and really ended up enjoying it!


PattyMacDotComma Lady Poppy wrote: "Did anyone else dislike the twist at the end? I thought it was sort of a cop-out. Like "I need a twist so I'll just say the mom was dead all along". It kind of felt like the idea of "it was all a d..."

I agree that it's a cop-out to say later that a plot or major plot point is a dream. But I don't mind being fooled into assuming something is what it isn't. I had guessed about the mother, but I don't remember what made me think that. Maybe someone else remembers.

I also enjoyed it, although I could have done with the 'boyfriend' story line.


Renee (elenarenee) I am just starting this. I find Elenore to be judgmental. She reminds me of those people who think there way is the only right way. We see so much of that kind of thinking right now.


I am not sure I will finish this. Its too bad because I was looking forward to the book.


Karen | 127 comments Renee wrote: "I am just starting this. I find Elenore to be judgmental. She reminds me of those people who think there way is the only right way. We see so much of that kind of thinking right now.


I am not sur..."


I felt the same way when I first started, but Eleanor really grew on me over the course of the book. I ended up really enjoying it and her!


Rachelnyc Renee wrote: "I am just starting this. I find Elenore to be judgmental. She reminds me of those people who think there way is the only right way. We see so much of that kind of thinking right now.


I am not sur..."


I would encourage you to give it a little time. I was a bit irritated by Eleanor in the beginning as well but there is much more to her than we see early on. I read this book back in January and she remains one of the more interesting characters and one of my favorite books of the year.


Rachelnyc Lady Poppy wrote: "Did anyone else dislike the twist at the end? I thought it was sort of a cop-out. Like "I need a twist so I'll just say the mom was dead all along". It kind of felt like the idea of "it was all a d..."

I understand what you are saying and when there is an unearned twist like that, I usually hate it but I loved it here because (to me, anyway) it made perfect sense for the character. I also loved it because I usually can see that kind of twist coming a mile away but it took me by surprise.


Charley Girl (charleygirl9) | 88 comments Karen wrote: "Renee wrote: "I am just starting this. I find Elenore to be judgmental. She reminds me of those people who think there way is the only right way. We see so much of that kind of thinking right now.
..."


Agreed. Keep reading! I felt the same. It is a good book!


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