Eleanor Oliphant, lonely and literally scarred by the past, is desperate for a change, and to connect with someone, going whole weekends without speaking to a soul, other than the grocer who carries the vodka that helps her forget. At a concert, she sees a singer whom she thinks is the answer to everything she, and her tyrant mother, have ever wanted for her in a man. So the socially inept, sneaker-clad, make-up ignorant Eleanor sets out to learn about personal grooming in the most hilarious debacles anyone has ever encountered in a salon, ending with the poor waxing technician being slapped! Then a coworker who is more adept at social interaction, but more challenged at grooming, helps Eleanor to make a new friend of an elderly man, and to overcome her shyness and hermit routine. “A woman who scorns the conventions of polite society,” Eleanor Oliphant is hilarious, articulate, and tragic yet triumphant.
At her regular lunches with Raymond, Eleanor ordered a “frothy coffee and a cheese scone.” Here is my recipe for a very simple cheese scone or American biscuit.
- all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- cold salted butter
- baking powder
- sharp cheddar cheese
- whole milk
For the full recipe and instructions, visit owlcation.com/humanities/Eleanor-Oliphant-is-Completely-Fine-Book-Discussion-and-Recipe.
- What were some of the social conventions or even common grooming habits women were used to that shocked or had to be learned by Eleanor?
- Eleanor felt sorry for beautiful people because beauty is “ephemeral, already slipping away. That must be difficult.” How is this ironic, and possibly reflective of how beautiful people probably saw her?
For the rest of the discussion questions, visit owlcation.com/humanities/Eleanor-Oliphant-is-Completely-Fine-Book-Discussion-and-Recipe.
Jane Eyre is referenced in the book, and Eleanor seems to have a bit in common with Jane whom she describes as “a strange child, difficult to love, a lonely child left to deal with so much pain at a young age.”
Other books about socially challenged but intelligent individuals struggling with depression and mental scars are Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
Turtles All The Way Down by John Green has the same humorous approach to mental scars and issues, while Looking for Alaska deals with the before and after and searching for answers after a great tragedy.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson are both memoirs of a woman with a quick wit and socially awkward upbringing who overcomes life and tragedy with humor.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is about a cantankerous older man with a tragic past and little left to live for, who acquires new neighbors with young children, and in unwillingly aiding them several times, finds purpose in other people.