Socializing {Book Club}

I haven’t been out at all since we last met here for book club. (I write these a week ahead of time, so maybe I should say that I haven’t been out since I last wrote a book club post.) My husband has, and he took the kids for a ride. And everyone (and everything) was decontaminated when they got home.

I feel like every conversation I have with my husband in person or via text with other people starts with something one of us saw on social media. It used to be lame to only socialize through social media. But these days, it is the only socializing we get. We live in wild times!

(I feel I should give a catch up for anyone in corona-fog. It’s so hard to keep track of things when life is unusual. This week, we are discussing chapters 10-19 of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. That is from Eleanor meeting Mrs. Gibbons until she is asked to organize the work Christmas party.)

As we become less and less social, Eleanor is getting out more and more, but not as planned. She ends up spending much more time with Raymond and Sammy.

What did you think of Mrs. Gibbons/Raymond’s mother? I love her so much. Eleanor was thrilled when Mrs. Gibbons thanked her so sincerely on the same day that Sammy had. In her socially distant life, Eleanor hasn’t had opportunities to practice kindness to others. She “felt a little glow inside – not a blaze, more like a small, steady candle.”

Eleanor continues to improve on her image – she gets a manicure and new clothes, but her first planned encounter with the musician (the man she is destined to marry), doesn’t work out. After all her planning and preparation, the concert is sold out. She won’t see the musician that night. While she is disappointed, she is also confident that fate will bring them together. And it does! There he is at Tesco the next morning. The only problem is: now Eleanor is not prepared to meet him.

This had me thinking about all of our plans that have been changed, postponed, and cancelled lately. We had taken for granted that our plans would go through. We planned carefully, considering things that could have gone wrong. We even made some contingency plans because we know things go wrong sometimes, yet it didn’t matter. Things we could not have foreseen and contingencies we couldn’t plan for nullified our plans. How do you cope when plans don’t work out?

In the last chapter this week, Eleanor is offered a promotion to office manager and asked to take over planning the Christmas party. I have some trepidation about how that will go, but in the end, I believe Eleanor will succeed. What do you think?

We didn’t get many more clues or any answers to the questions I had last week. But there are a few breadcrumbs. When her mother calls after the missed Wednesday night phone call, she says something about Eleanor trying to save someone. Eleanor admits to herself that she drinks alcohol to silence the voice in her memory begging her for help. There is a memory of Eleanor brushing someone else’s hair while Laura is cutting Eleanor’s hair. She also says, “Once you realize that you don’t need anyone, you can take care of yourself. You can’t protect other people, however hard you try. You try, and you fail, and your world collapses around you, burns to ashes.” Eleanor must have had a sister who died in the fire.

Come on in to the comments and share with us. What are you picking up from these chapters of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine? Do you have any favorite Eleanor quotes?

Here’s the reading schedule:

April 21 – Chapters 20-29

April 28 – Chapters 30-41


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!

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

5 Comments

  1. Sarah Hilkemann April 14, 2020

    I’ve really been enjoying the new people in Eleanor’s life! Sammy, Raymond (he’s my favorite I think, despite the smoking), Raymond’s mother. They are so delightful and such a sharp contrast to Eleanor’s mother who is positively toxic. I like that Eleanor is trying new things, branching out, and transforming her appearance. I don’t think we should fixate on what we look like on the outside but I also think it’s totally fine to be comfortable in your own skin and if that means some changes, that’s okay. It can be a good confidence booster. 🙂

    1. Rachel Kahindi April 15, 2020

      I like Raymond, too! He’s so nice and normal.

      And I agree – it helps a lot to know that you look good. I have always wanted to be styled by someone who knows what looks good!

  2. Bayta Schwarz April 14, 2020

    Again, I have really enjoyed this section. It almost feels like her being so fixated on the musician scenario helps her just go with the flow in other relationships (like Raymond, his mother, Sammy and his family). So beautiful to see her come out of her shell, almost despite herself! Maybe my favourite scene was her getting a haircut! Sidenote: I also very much dislike hair salons and am so thankful for my wonderful mobile hairdresser. But that’s beside the point :-). Anyway, Laura is not a character I would be drawn to but in that context, she was so kind towards Eleanor! And Eleanor’s comment “You’ve made me shiny, Laura” had me choked up. What a beautiful thing to do for someone! I think even for Eleanor, it was about more than her changed appearance, it was the experience of someone doing smething for her, being kind to her. Beautiful!

    1. Rachel Kahindi April 15, 2020

      There is so much about kindness in this book. Kindness seems too small and simple to help someone who’s been through as much trauma as Eleanor. It isn’t enough, but normal human kindness does help Eleanor, which is amazing.

  3. Karen April 23, 2020

    Yes, I agree that kindness seems to really be a theme in this book. I especially like Raymond’s mother, with her hospitality. It sounds like she lives simply and doesn’t have very much, but she was thrilled to share tea time with Raymond and Eleanor.

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