Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

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I recently picked this book up off my TBR shelf. I spent a delightful hour long conversation at my local bookstore (Hunter Street Books) with a bookseller there. Turns out we had very similar taste in books, and she handsold me Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This novel reminded me so much of The Rosie Project. It was creative, funny, and also tragic.

This isn’t a spoiler at all, but it turns out Eleanor Oliphant is NOT completely fine. Eleanor is struggling socially, and has the habit of truly speaking her mind. She isolates herself from human contact, and spends her weekends eating frozen pizza, and drowning herself in vodka. Here enters Raymond, her co-worker, who helps her take care of an elderly man who has fallen. This experience has bonded Eleanor and Raymond, and it turns out they each can help each other’s damaged hearts.

Time only blunts the pain of loss. It doesn’t erase it.

I am usually not a fan of “fun” books. I like a really dark, introspective novel. I like when a book makes me reflect and think a lot. But this book just brought together those two worlds for me. Eleanor, within 20 pages of this novel, has decided to get her first waxing of her nether regions. That scene had me dying of laughter. I actually chatted about this scene to a friend who also read this book, and we both teared up for the laughs.

Then this novel had me welling up at certain points. Eleanor’s childhood, you find out, has jaded her. She has shoved this childhood down so far within her in hopes she wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions that came along with the trauma. Now, at 30 years old, we watch Eleanor deal with her traumatic childhood, and climb out of her socially anxious box.

Although it’s good to try new things and to keep an open mind, it’s also extremely important to stay true to who you really are.

This book was such a gem. Like I said earlier, it made me have the same feelings that The Rosie Project did. I loved, and will be recommending it completely to many different types of readers.

Until next time… Happy Sunday, bookish friends!

 

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Educated, by Tara Westover

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Phew, the minute I finished this book I had to tell myself to unfurrow my brow, and lower my shoulders. Educated was recommended to me by a cottage reading buddy, who enjoys much the same type of books that I do. Then, this book blew up the social media bookish world. Every time I jumped onto Instagram, this book was in my feed.

Educated, by Tara Westover, is a heart-breaking memoir. It comes in at just over 300 pages, and it’s the story of her childhood, and path to an education. She first stepped into a classroom at the age of seventeen. Tara grew up in a Mormon household, whose parents were survivalists that lived an isolated life in the mountains in Idaho. Her childhood consisted of making herbal tinctures with her mother, and salvaging a junkyard with her father. Tara had seemed to have a conflicted feeling in her gut from a young age about her families beliefs, and decided to educate herself. She ends up at BYU, Cambridge, and Harvard, to eventually become Dr. Westover.

Whoa, this book was a hard read for me. Not in it’s style, just the content. There is child abuse, neglect, and just plain cult-like behaviour. Tara and her siblings seemed so trapped by their lifestyle, and ultimately deciding whether to complete the cycle. I had to read this novel in short blips of 25 pages here, and there, because some of the content was just unimaginable. This memoir made me feel grateful for my education, my privileged childhood, and loving parents and siblings… because Tara definitely did not have this.

First find out what you are capable of, then decide who you are.

I wish that Tara had waited another 20 years to write this novel. She’s a young woman, only 32 years old, and I think that hearing what affect her childhood also had on her future relationships, children (if she decided to have them or not), and also her career. I think that hearing this story without being so fresh may have given me a different perspective, and maybe her as well.

This memoir reminded me so much of The Glass Castle. I really did enjoy Tara’s voice, and think she is an incredible woman, who fought with such a force to become the woman she always felt she was. Maybe we will see a Part 2 in a couple decades. Lastly, Madeleine over on Top Shelf Text had pointed out to me that on Amazon her family gave scathing 1 star reviews to her memoir… something to check out if you are interested.

Anywho, until next time, happy reading!

July: Time for Play

 

 

 

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Time for a confession… if you have been following my Happiness Project, thank you! I hate to disappointment you, because in all honesty the month of June was a FLOP!!!! I just cannot get my life organized enough to only get groceries once a week. And ya know what, I’m willing to let that go. I seriously stressed out about this goal, and eventually I was just like FORGET IT!!! It’s not worth the stress… so this month was unsuccessful, but hey, I’m still pretty damn happy!!

Moving on to July: Time for Play! I planned this strategically. Summer is my favourite season, and I was hoping by this time in the project it would be a good way for me take some time and really enjoy the things I love to do. Here’s a list of goals that I am planning on working on this month:

  • Go to farmer’s markets!
  • Start journalling, stop worrying.
  • Get to the cottage 🙂

See what I mean, this month is all about me, doing what I feel,  and having fun. In all honesty, I am somewhat exhausted from constantly keeping up with new goals each month. I knew this would happen, and it’s actually quite timely that July is a bit of a fun month. I’m also planning on carrying this over to my reading life as well, and just reading based on feel.

Did you make any goals this month? I’d love to hear from you, and what they are!

Happy Summer!!

 

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah

I had been waiting for this book from my local library for a very long time. By the time I had thought to put it on hold I was #29 on the hold list! So when I had the email appear in my inbox telling me The Great Alone was ready for pick up, I squealed and 🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏼‍♀️ to the Omemee library!

Kristin Hannah has written a ton of books in her span of being an author. She’s a retired lawyer, turned author. I’ve read a few of her catalogue, but my all time favourite was her last book The Nightingale. If you haven’t read it, go get it immediately, it’s on my top 10 favs list! So when The Great Alone came out, I was stoked, along with the rest of the bookish world.

The Great Alone is set in the 70’s, revolving around the Allbright family. Ernt, a Vietnam Veteran returns from a POW camp as a changed man. His wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, have also had their lives changed forever, as Ernt is violent, and easily frustrated. When a friend of Ernt’s from the War has passed, they find out Ernt has inherited his property in Alaska. The Allbright family decides to take a chance on a fresh start and move up to a remote town in Alaska. Hold on from here… as the story has only begun.

I thought this book had an awesome plot. With a setting in Alaska in the 70’s there is just so much interesting content. From no electricity, to fending off the wild animals, it’s so exciting and definitely removed from our everyday luxury. The other plot line that involved PTSD, and the affect it had on the Allbright family was hard to read… but to think how many families went through this exact scenario was eye opening.

Mama could never leave Dad, and Leni would never leave Mama. And Dad could never let them go. In this toxic knot that is their family, there was no escape for them.

The one thing that really connected this book together was the strength of the women. They were what held the families together, and the key to survival. One character, Large Marge, was my favourite! She took no shit from anyone, knew what needed to be done, and just did it.

I found this book to be a really compelling story, but (unpopular opinion) I found the ending to be really rushed, and somewhat unbelievable. But in all honest, it’s worth the read, because it’s a really great story that will have you flipping pages so fast!

Anywho, Happy Canada Day, and hope you are having a great weekend 😎🇨🇦

The Colonial Hotel, by Jonathan Bennett

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Before I get started, just allow me a minute to gush about this beautiful book cover! It reminded me so much of the colours of the sunrise and sunset that I take (arguably) too many pictures of. This is the second novel that I’ve read from Jonathan Bennett, first being Entitlement. He is a local author, who is a novelist, and poet. I recently picked up his latest poetry collection called Happinesswise, and it’s fantastic!

The Colonial Hotel is relatively slim novel, coming in at 227 pages. It is the story of doctor Paris, and Helen, a nurse who are both delivering care in a unnamed country in which a civil war is approaching. When this civil war does break out, Paris and Helen are swept up by the rebel forces and forced to be separated. Helen, who just recently found out she’s pregnant, escapes. But Paris does not, and is imprisoned as the war rages. The story is told through letters to their daughter.

This is a gorgeous story… I felt like it gave me everything, a love story, a thriller, and a mystery component. I’ve read that it is an adaptation of the Helen and Paris myth, and you have GOT to know what I’m talking about here… Helen of Troy, and Prince Paris?!?! Knowing this little fact just made it all fit together for this love story for me. I also read that Bennett actually re-worked a long poem into this novel. Then there were the complex feelings of love and different types that exist… whether it’s parental/child, or spouses, this novel really shows you that each persons experience is unique.

Peanut, we made it. I have chosen you above of else. Will Paris forgive me for leaving him behind? Can women control when, and why, men are taken by war? It’s a wound inflicted upon us again and again. To heal, we must let go.

Lastly, let me rave for a moment about the descriptive, poetic language… It had me stopping to re-read passages. As a reader, you are completely caught up in the story of Helen and Paris, but the writing is this amazing experience that you want to slowly devour. There is just so much in this novel to love.

Anywho, that’s all for today friends. Go grab this book, and then we can chat about it!

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult

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Wow. Let’s talk about a book that completely moved me. I was in tears 62 pages into this novel, and telling EVERYONE (Yes, sorry co-workers & friends!) about this book. Jodi Picoult is a best-selling author of twenty-four novels. I quite like the big topics and feelings that she dives into, but her sometimes her novels are seem formulaic, but always fantastic. Small Great Things is an amazing book, and such an important read!

In Small Great Things you are introduced to Ruth Jefferson, a labor and delivery nurse at with twenty years’ experience. On her shift, Ruth begins to do her check-ins with the newborns, when she is told she is being re-assigned from one particular family. The parents are proud white supremacists and Ruth, who is African American, is told not to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she follow the hospital orders or does she intervene?

Jodi Picoult is tackling some HUGE topics in this book. Racism, privilege, and compassion, are just a few that stand out to a reader. And these big topics are ones that need to be approached with caution, writing this novel could not have been an easy task. There were moments when I was reading that had me in tears, and others that left me feeling a gut-punch of awkwardness. But one thing that really stood out to me was the paragraph in which active racism, and passive racism is brought up. Read this passage below, and stop and think about what it means:

Active racism is telling a nurse supervisor that an African American nurse can’t touch your baby. It’s snickering at a black joke. But passive racism? It’s noticing there’s only one person of color in your office and not asking your boss why. It’s reading your kid’s fourth-grade curriculum and seeing that the only black history covered is slavery, and not questioning why. It’s defending a woman in court whose indictment directly resulted from her race…and glossing over that fact, like it hardly matters.

Please go read this book, it’s intense, full of emotion, and again… it’s so important. I hate when people say “This book is important” it just sounds so righteous, but I’m saying it anyway… because sometimes a book is important.

So, I will just be over here stuck in a book hangover for a couple days after this one! And looking forward already to her next release, Spark of Light. Until next time, happy reading!

 

The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis

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Historical fiction is a genre that can open your eyes to a whole new part of history that you had no idea about. This is exactly what this book did for me. Being based in New York during the Sylvia Plath era (who wrote The Bell Jar), I learned about a whole new period of time that was a crucial turning point for women and told in a great story.

The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis is a fast-paced, and interesting historical fiction novel. You are thrust between two characters that live in the same building in New York. Rose, a modern day journalist, and Darby, a young woman who had gone to secretary school and was staying at the iconic Barbizon Hotel in 1952. The story is based on the mystery of what had happened between a maid, and Darby herself… ending in a death. As Rose begins to uncover small snippets from the guests who have lived their since the time of the Barbizon, she begins to learn that there is a lot more to the mystery than meets the eye.

Like I said earlier, this novel is based in the Sylvia Plath era, which I had no clue about until The Dollhouse peaked my interest. I thought it was such a clever way to give a nod to this era of women, without focusing on the real, famous women that actually lived in the Barbizon Hotel. The list includes:

  • Sylvia Plath
  • Joan Didion
  • Joan Crawford
  • Liza Minelli
  • Grace Kelly
  • Jaclyn Smith
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Candice Bergen

The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you.

Anywho, I thought Fiona Davis did a dazzling job in this debut novel. I read this book in two days, and was constantly picking it up to read it in my stolen moments. If you are a historical fiction or mystery fan you will love this one. Think a mix of Agatha Christie and The Great Gatsby! I am looking forward to picking up her next one, The Address.

Anywho, that’s all for today, happy reading!