My kids are fully capable of making their own breakfast and lunch, but they usually ask me to fix them food. Twenty times a day. That particular day, my husband was running errands and I was working on the computer all morning. They were ready to eat lunch while I was still working. I heard them in the kitchen, and I was relieved. I would be able to finish what I was doing before breaking for lunch.
A few minutes later, they were calling down the hall to me that my lunch was ready! They had made me lunch. What a treat!
In this third section of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (chapters 20-29), Eleanor started thinking about how it feels to do small acts of kindness. “I realized that such small gestures—the way [Raymond’s] mother had made me a cup of tea after our meal without asking, remembering that I didn’t take sugar, the way Laura had placed two little biscuits on the saucer when she brought me coffee in the salon—such things could mean so much. I wondered how it would feel to perform such simple deeds for other people.”
The lunch my kids made for me was not elaborate or labor intensive. It wasn’t what I would have chosen for myself, but it was the best part of my day because it was an unexpected small act of kindness.
There are so many little, effortless things one can do to show kindness to others. These days, the others around us are in our households or online, except for those rare occasions when we venture out to buy necessities. How have you been shown kindness in small ways lately?
Throughout this section, Eleanor ventured out even more. She bravely went to Sammy’s funeral with Raymond, knowing how hard it would be for her. She “handled” it by drinking way too much vodka. Regardless, here was Eleanor, sharing life with people in a way she never had before.
This built up to my favorite chapter, when Eleanor invited Raymond to a concert as part of her reconnaissance for meeting the musician at his concert in the same venue. I literally laughed out loud at her reaction to death metal and the image of her and Raymond standing outside laughing together. That was the best moment in the book! Loved it.
But the second part of the book is called Bad Days. It had to happen, didn’t it? Eleanor has to face her childhood trauma, but I was hoping it wouldn’t hit her this hard. Eleanor finally realized how outrageous it was to believe that she was fated to marry the musician. And she also realized that he’s not as great as she assumed he was. However, her breakdown wasn’t about not getting to meet a local celebrity. She admitted to herself that she thought he would help her to become normal. But, “there was no hope, things couldn’t be put right. I couldn’t be put right.”
In The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller writes that in our day, there is an “illusion that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God, and no human being can live up to that.” We all long for redemption, but for some reason we look for it in romance. Eleanor needs so much healing, but even a man who is the ideal husband material isn’t capable of healing her. We leave Eleanor as she is just beginning to dig into her life with a therapist. I don’t want to stop reading here!
Join me in the comments. What are your thoughts about the idea of redemption through romance?
Next week we’ll discuss the last part of the book: chapters 31-41.
In May we will be reading For the Joy, which is a collection of stories about Aussie mums serving cross-culturally. Even if you aren’t a mom, this is a book for any woman and you will be encouraged by the stories in this book.
We are so excited to be partnering with William Carey Publishing for this book, and they are offering us a 50% off code for the e-book version of For the Joy! Click on the link HERE and use the code VABOOKCLUB50!