A dangerous precedent has been set at a local book club with the serving of vodka and pizza. This inappropriate supper was the result of protagonist Eleanor Oliphant’s preferred Friday dinner. While the dinner did not come from Tesco, as the character Eleanor Oliphant would have insisted, it did lead to the question: What book could we read that has Sambuca in it?
It is not clear where choosing a book based on the alcohol it would necessitate consuming would lead. Certainly, vodka was not a good life choice for Eleanor Oliphant.
Book club member Marianne, who had the dubious honour of choosing books the club did not like, worked hard for her win with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Determined to break her poor record Marianne researched Goodreads for a book with a score of four and over and thoughtfully chose this for us.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is not a perfect book. The Pocket Book Club spent the first five minutes of the meeting eating pizza, drinking vodka and listing the inconsistencies, mistakes and bits we did not believe. A social worker would never turn up at a home visit with an entire case file tied up with string. And so on.
These complaints occurred early in the meeting, mainly so we could get them out of the way and talk about how much we loved Eleanor and thought we would like to marry Raymond.
This book is no literary masterpiece but it is incredibly good fun. Eleanor is a broken, lonely and strange woman. She has no friends and no close family. Her work colleagues make fun of her and she drinks a lot of vodka on the weekends. When an old man collapses in the street she gets drawn into his life, and the life of Raymond the computer geek. She is also stalking a rock star she intends to meet an marry.
What wins you over with this book, what makes you forgive its mistakes, is its voice and voice of Eleanor. Along the way, you also want to learn what so traumatised Eleanor that she is scarred (literally) and so incapable of relationships.
The book was a hit and Marianne is allowed to stay.
The important next question, what book can we read that has sambuca in it?