Sunday, 29 November 2015
Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
Following the hugely acclaimed bestseller Hey Nostradamus! comes a major new novel from Douglas Coupland: the wonderfully warm, funny, life-affirming story of Liz Dunn, a woman who has spent her whole life alone and lonely -- until now. This is a major work of commercial literary fiction from an author who just gets better and better. 'My name is Liz Dunn. The Liz Dunns of this world take classes in croissant baking, and would rather chew on soccer balls than deny their children muesli. They own one sex toy, plus one cowboy fantasy that accompanies its use...Look at me: I am a traitor to my name: I'm not cheerful; I'm drab. I'm crabby and friendless. And lonely.' Liz Dunn is 42 years old, and lonely. Her house is like 'a spinster's cell block', and she may or may not snore -- there's never been anybody to tell her. Then one day in 1997, with the comet Hale Bopp burning bright in the blue-black sky, Liz receives an urgent phone call asking her to visit a young man in hospital. All at once, the loneliness that has come to define her is ripped away by this funny, smart, handsome young stranger, Jeremy. Her son. Coupland's finest character yet. Illuminated by a wonderfully gentle, searching wisdom, it sees Coupland ascend to a new level of peace and grace in his ever-more-extraordinary career.
I've never read any of Douglas Couplands books before. I swapped this book with an online friend, I was drawn to the tiitle due to the song of the same name by The Beatles of which I am particularly fond.
Like Eleanor Rigby, Liz Dunn is a loner. She has few friends and not much contact with her family, until one day when she gets a phone call to visit someone in Hospital. The young man she is asked to visit is a stranger to her at first, but as they become acquainted her turns out to be her long lost and perhaps forgotten son, Jeremy.
As we are taken on a journey through the relationship between Mother and Son, we learn the history behind how he came to be and also how Liz became so lonely.
At times this easy read short story as it's not overlong by any stretch of the imagination, is bleak and at others it can be quite humourous. Coupland has a way with words and his narrative is quite tight and too the point. It's an insight into how we as humans deal with certain scenarios in our lives and how our decisions can ultimately affect others for the rest of their lives.
I gave this an 8/10 and think it would be perfect as a Reading Group read.