19 May 2019

Eleanor O. and an Itinerary

There are a few women in my neighbourhood who are good friends because dogs brought us together.  Letting the dogs play has evolved into wine on the patio (as it will) every now and then.  Just over a year ago we talked about starting a book club with my choice of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry as the book to start things off.  At the inaugural meeting it turned out that two of us had finished the book (in my case, a reread) while the other four members bailed before the ending.  As a way to smooth things over, I was asked to suggest something else for further down the road.  'The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters is a wonderful read!' I said.  Our host shouted 'What?!'  Apparently her other book group were not at all keen when they read it earlier that year.  To be fair, I wasn't excited about their choices either so I bowed out gracefully.  We still chat about the dogs and drink wine on the patio but when it comes to books I break from the pack. 

A few weeks ago, one of the book club members asked me to join in for their next read.  It was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and my friend just so happened to have two copies at home.  'Oh alright then'.  To be Completely Honest I wasn't expecting to like it.  

With over 39,000 reviews on Goodreads and more than 6,000 on Amazon there can't possibly be many readers out there who don't know what this book is about so I'll take a pass on repeating the synopsis.  What I will say is the same message was often relayed on podcasts I listen to....woman leaves work on Friday, spends her weekend drinking alone, then goes back to work on Monday.  Yes, loneliness plays a part in the story but after only a few pages I was smiling....and slightly worried because, just like Eleanor, I also enjoy the Daily Telegraph and The Archers and am very okay with my own company. 

Talking about the book with a colleague at the library I said 'I'm laughing but something tells me I shouldn't be'. Eleanor is doing her best under circumstances that can sometimes crush people; you can't help but root for her.  Gail Honeyman has done a wonderful job of portraying an unsettling aspect of the human psyche while still allowing the sun to shine through the clouds.  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was an unexpected reading pleasure and I'm very glad my arm was twisted to read the book. 

Reading time is competing with trip planning as I'm going to London in September!  On my list so far is a tour of the London Library, Tate Britain, The Guildhall Art Gallery, Churchill War Rooms, Fenton House and Burgh House in Hampstead, Dulwich Village, and mulling day trips to Charleston Farmhouse or Knole.  Persephone Books is hosting a talk on Anna Gmeyner and Elisabeth de Waal that sounds very interesting, and I'm watching the British Library's events page for their talks. 

No one wants to wish away the next few months of glorious weather but I'm so looking forward to being in London again.

Fenton House
Hampstead

10 comments:

  1. Yes, I've been with my reading group for over ten years and we have had to learn to compromise! One of us really loves science fiction, another reads only classic literature, another likes big adventure stories and so on. We all loved Elizabeth Strout though and we all agreed we hated 50 Shades of Grey!

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    1. I laughed out loud at 50 Shades of Grey, Nicola! Your reading group is so much more open-minded and supportive than the one in my neighbourhood. Ten years is an impressive length of time!

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  2. Oh please go to Charleston so I can visit it vicariously through you. It's very high on my bucket list!

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    1. I'll do my very best to report back every detail, Audrey, and I hope you make it there one day! Having been to Monk's House in Rodmell during my last trip I'm looking forward to being back in such a beautiful landscape.

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  3. If you haven't already done so, it is well worth going on the British Library building tour. Amazing building, and even more amazing stories. I believe the Sunday tours include the reading rooms which are not available during the week.

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    1. Hi Michelle! During my trip in 2017 I went on the tour and attended two talks at the British Library...highly recommended! I found it interesting that they have a whole tower building to house the vast amount of print...even daily newspapers.
      Thanks for sharing your tip. The BL might not be the first place tourists think of to explore while in London but if you like books it should be!

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  4. I loved Eleanor O, despite thinking I wouldn't! Also a book club pick.
    And hurrah that you're coming back this Sept! I hope we manage to say hi at some point. I've only been to Fenton House once, but I loved it.

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    1. Hi Simon! Glad to read that Fenton House has a thumbs up from you...I do enjoy a small museum and the grounds are beautiful! Who knows, I might buy a book at the Oxfam near the tube station and just enjoy the quiet for a bit.
      See you!

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  5. I could never bring myself to join a book group - I like to keep my opinions to myself!

    September is not very far distant, I hope that you manage to accomplish all of your plans and that we have an Indian Summer.

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    1. It's probably for the best, Toffeeapple. I prefer bookish podcasts for an in-depth info session. It starts right on time and there are no worries about a menu or cleaning the house!
      I hope so too...September will be tricky when it comes to packing buy any excuse to buy another cardigan will be okay with me.

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