Well, not Pat and only two thirds of the Book Club, but they still read it
June’s edition of the Eason Book Club on The Pat Kenny Show saw the regular host replaced by Jonathan Healy and one of the panellists off on her holidays to the south of France. But as a trio, Mary O’Rourke, Brian Kennedy and Jonathan had plenty to say about Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
In Gail Honeyman’s book, the eponymous Eleanor struggles with social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that she has become a creature of habit and something of a loner.
But her regimented lifestyle, designed to avoid social interactions, changes when she meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When together they save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who takes a tumble on a footpath, the trio becomes the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation and help each other forge new identities.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of a quirky yet lonely woman whose social misunderstandings and deeply ingrained routines could be changed forever – if only she can bear to confront the secrets she has avoided all her life. But what did the panel think?
“I’m very proud that I chose this book because you never really know what you’re getting into,” said Brian Kennedy. “From page one, our character Eleanor, I just absolutely had empathy for her. Clearly she is a girl that had a lot of troubles in her life.”
Mary O’Rourke was equally enthralled by Eleanor, the former Cabinet minister describing her like “a civil servant I could have met over the years,” but who was “absolutely compelling.”
“I started it and I couldn’t stop, I was so concerned about her.”
As ever, the Eason Book Club was joined on the phone by a listener, with Marie O’Sullivan from Balbriggan offering insight from her own reading group – The Blurbettes.
Comprising six women, they read mostly Irish authors, with a particular fondness for Donal Ryan and Liz Nugent. But when it came to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, the Blurbettes reached a rare universal consensus.
“We loved it,” Marie said. “One of the first times that we all agreed, there’s usually a lot of disagreement and varied opinion. We all really enjoyed it, found it very easy to read. You’re completely engaged. You felt so deeply for the main character and want her to be okay.”
For July, Mary O’Rourke will be choosing one of the four following books: Arudhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips, Benjamin Ludwig’s Ginny Moon.
Tune in to The Pat Kenny Show next week to hear which of the books it is and listen back to this month’s Eason Book Club in the podcast below: