Reese Witherspoon’s book club has been on my periphery, it’s been great seeing a beloved actress that I grew up on (I mean…Man in the Moon? Fear? Formative) become such a literary champion and icon. That said, I enjoy being a contrarian so I’m more likely to eschew something everyone likes then subscribe to it, even though Reese is obviously a goddess, I was hesitant to go all in on her book club recommendations. But after this one, which was her first ever back in 2017 and looking at her list of previous selections (which includes The Library Book, Curtis Sittenfield, and Alice Hoffman) I’m all in.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t immediately sold on Honeyman’s novel. Looking at the back which said it was “a wacky charming novel” it took me a while to see it, and I was positively stumped. I looked at the glowing recs on the back calling it “satisfyingly quirky” and “a charmer” and was convinced maybe I had the wrong book. Eventually though, I was hooked and the last 1/4 read in one sitting.
I think the book jacket does it a disservice because I was expecting something fluffy and conventional, and that is not who Eleanor Oliphant is. She is a realistically written lonely woman in her 30s: friendless, relationshipless, and marching to the beat of her own drum. But this isn’t a meetcute romcom in its first act, which is what the book jacket sounds like. I think it’s because it’s hard to put this story, and the character, into a box or palatable soundbite. I found it delightful and surprising and uncomfortable and don’t want to say much else because knowing little going into it was part of my joy with this book.
I am so excited that Reese (we are not on a first name basis, I like to pretend) will producing the film adaptation. Eleanor is an interesting female character, one that we don’t often get, and her raw and uplifting story of loneliness and hope in a hopeless situation is a story worth telling.