Hello! How are you finding our September read? I hope you’re enjoying it.
Here are our discussion questions to ponder as we read, and remember – these are not compulsory but only serve to deepen our experience of the book. We will be sharing our answers in an Instagram discussion forum on Friday, 28th September at 8pm (EST), so grab a journal and jot down your thoughts in preparation. Our first ever bookclub discussion last month was so fun and life-giving and wasn’t it so great to connect with each other and share? It really was such a wonderful night and I love how we shared and supported each other. If you can join in, please do. We’d love to have you!
Please Note: Do not read or answer Question Thirteen or Fourteen until you’ve finished the book completely as I would hate for the plot to be revealed to you before you have finished it yourself!
Question One: Why do you think the author titled the book what it is? Why not just call it “Eleanor Oliphant?”
Question Two: What was your first impression of Eleanor? What assumptions did you make about her quirks? And did your impression of her change at all during the course of the book? The author seemed to be very careful to make sure Eleanor never pitied herself, and this was a key component in ensuring the audience felt sympathetic towards her. Do you think she did a good job? Did you like Eleanor? Did you come to invest in her healing and her life? Or did you not really care what happened to her? Did she evoke your sympathy, and if so, why? And if she didn’t…why not?
Question Three: What do you think of Eleanor and Raymond’s relationship? Is it friendship or is it romantic, and why has the author made it unclear? What do you want to happen to them in the future?
Question Four: Can you pinpoint a time when it seemed Eleanor’s heart started to soften? What experiences do you think played the biggest part in her shift toward a more healthy mind and heart?
Question Five: What sentences or paragraphs stuck out for you throughout the book? Why did you resonate with them?
Question Six: Eleanor is very frank about social conventions she finds challenging. How did hearing her honesty make you think about the social rules we have in place? Why is complete honesty so uncommon, and do you think it being uncommon is a good thing, or do you think Eleanor’s frankness is refreshing and we need more of it in our society?
Question Seven: Without female friends or family to relate to, how did Eleanor come to learn about what it means to be a woman? What observations did she make and what are the downfalls/discussions points of them?
Question Eight: The author carefully inserted humour into the story to contrast the heaviness of the subject matter. Do you think she was successful in this? Did you laugh out loud in any moments or feel amused by Eleanor’s observations on the absurdity of everyday life? What are your funniest moments from the book? What was your favourite Eleanor-ism?
Question Nine: Eleanor is clearly portrayed as an outsider but did you find any similarities between Eleanor and yourself? Could you relate to her? If so, what did you have in common?
Question Ten: “I took one of my hands in the other, tried to imagine what it would feel like if it was another person’s hand holding mine. There have been times where I felt that I might die of loneliness.” Do you think being alone and loneliness are the same thing? What cultural/societal messages are given to people who are alone?
Question Eleven: “Some people, weak people, fear solitude. What they fail to understand is that you don’t need anyone, you can take care of yourself.” Do you agree with this? Do you think self-reliance is a positive thing? And if so, how can we be self-reliant but not shut others out or limit life experiences? Do you think this is an issue particularly relevant to abuse victims?
Question Twelve: “Grief is the price we pay for love, so they say. The price is far too high.” Do you agree? Discuss.
Question Thirteen: Discuss Raymond’s gift of a cat for Eleanor. How does the cat help heal Eleanor and what did you love about that relationship?
Question Fourteen: What did you think about the twist at the end? Did you guess where “Mummy” was? Why do you think Eleanor had made it up? Do you think Eleanor fully believed she was talking with her mother weekly? Why or why not?
Question Fifteen: Critics are calling Eleanor a modern-day heroine. Why do you think this is the case? How was Eleanor a role model?
Question Sixteen: How did you feel when you finished the book? Did it make you reflect on anything? What did you take away from it?
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