Graphic for Peachy Books Book Review Read-a-Loud for The One by John Marrs with a graphic of a red and blue dna strand with a heart overtop that shows the cover of the book and has the text saying to listen today at peachybooks.ca
Blog Roll, Contemporary Fiction, Saturday in Stereo, Sciences

Get DNA matched with your soulmate for the guarantee of true love?

What could possibly go wrong? This week on Saturday in Stereo listen to the Peachy Books review for The One by John Marrs, read aloud by PeachyTO.

Please visit the Peachy Books YouTube channel or click on the video below to check it out. If you enjoy the reading, I’d be thrilled if you would ‘like,’ subscribe, and hit the notification bell; it will help my channel to grow, and you’ll be the first to know when the latest read-a-louds are available. Thank you so much for your support!

To find the written review for The One and see the DNA Strand bookmark I was inspired to make, please click here.

Graphic for the Peachy Books review of In The Woods by Tana French, showing the cover and an image of a green and black Celtic Triquetra bookmark, with text saying: The novel that began the popular crime series: Dublin Murder Squad and crowned Tana French the First Lady of Irish Crime. This cerebral tale plays out on a Celtic archaeological dig by the woods, as its connection to the lands haunted past cast shadows of unresolved trauma while it clutches its victims with its ever invasive tendrils.
Blog Roll, book reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Popular Fiction

Book Review: In The Woods by Tana French

Book Cover for In The Woods by Tana French

In The Woods by Tana French

Dublin Murder Squad #1

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Tana French – In The Woods

**Some Spoilers Within**

When I first spied the cover at the library checkout while picking up my stack of holds, it freaked me out and flung me back a couple of decades to the terror that consumed me when watching The Blair Witch Project; the last horror film I have seen. 

As I paused and did a double-take on the Returns bin four steps to my left, an ominous feeling settled in my stomach, signalling me to skip it and bolt. 

Emboldened by the rave reviews for the Dublin Murder Squad series and my love of Ireland, I chose courage and decided to give In The Woods a chance. Now, pleased not to have caved to my inner scaredy-cat, I can report there is suspense, there are thrilling angles, and there is even a smattering of Celtic lore, but no horror, phew!


Rob Ryan is our narrator and protagonist, a sad sort, shaken and traumatised by earth-shattering loss in his early years; loss of memory, loss of friends, loss of time. I am no clinician, and this is fiction, but given the numerous trauma responses he elicits throughout the novel, it would seem he suffers chronic PTSD. 

He never admits to any diagnosis that I can recall but does acknowledge upfront that he is prone to lying, no matter how much he craves the truth. 

Although lying is not necessarily a trait of PTSD, it could help a sufferer avoid their issues as they flounder for control, avoidance being a dominating factor with the affliction. 

Deception being an obligatory qualification of his career, he seems to share his propensity to fabricate with occupational pride; in Rob, we have the quintessential unreliable narrator.

At least his desire for truth stands to reason, evidenced by his search to learn more about his disassociated past. But how far will he detour to find out what happened? 

As I tore through his story, I enjoyed the element of playing detective and tried to determine which parts of his narrative were truthful, which were the falsehoods, and most importantly, which were the lies that he told to fool himself. The skill of French’s writing ensures all three.  

Cassie is a champ. In her new position as Inspector at the Dublin Murder Squad, her bravery is admirable, as she charges ahead, the only woman in a male-dominated landscape. 

A role model to any woman, she faces life on her terms and will not let anyone or their conventions control her outcomes, regardless of the challenges posed against her. 

This Vespa-driving rebel is a ride-or-die kind of girl with the grit to overcome, and I now have an answer when a blogger asks me which fictional character I would choose to be my bestie, haha!

“I can’t explain the alchemy that transmuted one evening into the equivalent of years held lightly in common. The only way I can put it is that we recognized, too surely even for surprise, that we shared the same currency.”

A loyal, patient, and formidable detective with a psychology background and an affinity for profiling, Cassie is the perfect fit for Rob, both as a professional partner and friend. But does he have the self-awareness to recognise what is best for him even when it’s dangling within his grasp? 

“The girls I dream of are the gentle ones, wistful by high windows or singing sweet old songs at a piano, long hair drifting, tender as apple blossom. But a girl who goes into battle beside you and keeps your back is a different thing, a thing to make you shiver. Think of the first time you slept with someone, or the first time you fell in love: that blinding explosion that left you cracking to the fingertips with electricity, initiated and transformed. I tell you that was nothing, nothing at all, beside the power of putting your lives, simply and daily, into each other’s hands.”

The rookie inspectors are on the case of a young teen found murdered on an archaeological dig flanked by an apartment complex where she lived and the encroaching woods. Both of these places are familiar to Rob and his silent past, as the decades apart storylines become enmeshed and the mystery concentrated.

With no choice but to keep his story secret to avoid removal due to conflict of interest, he attempts to gain an understanding of what happened to him and his two friends in those woods so many years ago.

“There was a time when I believed I was the redeemed one, the boy borne safely home on the ebb of whatever freak tide carried Peter and Jamie away. Not any more. In ways too dark and crucial to be called metaphorical, I never left that wood.”

The true beauty of this tale is in its lyrical prose, but I took the most pleasure in the mind-fuck of psychological analysis through expertly drawn character development. 

Real people, flawed and reactionary, had me whipping through these pages. Rob’s base instincts coming to the fore, as survival and coping skills present under cover of selfishness and ego, while he sacrifices others for his cause. But don’t worry, he will turn the sword unto himself, as personal-sabotage is never far away.

Quote from In The Woods by Tana French with background graphic of inside the woods, with a moss green coloured square with the following quote in brown italicised lettering: "I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself."

Rob is a blinding example of how certain traumas can erode a sense of self, how a lad can become convinced they are not worthy of connection and love. 

When others are brave enough to attempt to crack the walls around that fortified heart, the traumatic brain will do anything in its power to push those people away, so that vulnerability is not an option. It is self-preservation at its most animal form, and it keeps suffers alone and broken. 

After personally spending decades white-knuckling it through my days in this described state, I found the relatable-ness of Rob’s behaviour to be comforting. French offers one of the clearest literary examples of this textbook response to trauma that I have read, and given that I thought I was getting your usual police procedural novel, I was duly surprised by this cerebral bonus. 

One of the more jarring police interviews in the novel detailed a teenage group sexual assault, which I feel I should mention here in the interest of warning those hoping to skip such incidents. 

That said, it was not overly gratuitous, and gave me a lot to think about. I appreciated how the surfacing of this event years later during this murder case saw the rapist as someone with remorse evident when confronted with his detestable actions. I like to hope that even scumbags would at least feel bad about stealing a piece of someone’s soul.

Quote from In The Woods by Tana French on a dry and crusted earth surface with deep crevices in a pale pink sand colour with a light brown/pink square with the quote: "Human beings, as I know better than most, can get used to anything. Over time, even the unthinkable gradually wears a little niche for itself in your mind and becomes just something that happened."

Humans are resilient, and no matter victim or perpetrator, they can overcome the ills that have threatened to take them down. Doing the work necessary to face the reality of one’s experiences, gives you back your power and leaves you with the control to access those things that happened when and how you see fit, not when they decide to highjack you. 

Rob is a tortured soul in multiple ways, not the least of which being survivor’s guilt. With the loss of his best friends and no memory of why he was the only one spared disappearance, his fractured mind is left to make sense of it and finds a way to blame himself for making it out of those woods alive. 

“Sometimes I think about the sly, flickering line that separates being spared from being rejected. Sometimes I think of the ancient gods who demanded that their sacrifices be fearless and without blemish, and I wonder whether, whoever or whatever took Peter and Jamie away, it decided I wasn’t good enough.”

The Who-Done-It? aspect of this mystery was sufficiently undetected by me until near the time of its reveal, although I know a couple of other people who were able to figure it out earlier on. If I were to guess, aiming my attention at the psychological study playing out in the background and seeing the mystery as secondary helped me stay unawares in this regard. 

This book was published in 2007 so I know I’m severely late to Tana French, aka the First Lady of Irish Crime’s party. As such, I have had occasion to hear other readers say they were disappointed by a lack of closure, and the tonnes of unanswered questions they didn’t know what to do with. To this I say, I am okay with that. This is the first in a long series, and with all of the bread crumbs French so expertly laid for me to follow In The Woods, I willingly, for(a)ge ahead in anticipation.


Here is the Celtic Triquerta Bookmark I was inspired to make, and I am so pleased with how it turned out because it was a little tricky!

Have you read this book or any others from the Dublin Murder Squad? Do you enjoy books that dive deep into human behaviourism and if so, can you recommend any?

Graphic for the Peachy Books Review Read-a-Loud written and read by PeachyTO for A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman with a background of pink flowers.
Blog Roll, book reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Popular Fiction, Saturday in Stereo

Saturday in Stereo – Book Review Read-a-Loud: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This week on Saturday in Stereo we have the Peachy Books review for A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, read aloud by PeachyTO.

Please visit the Peachy Books YouTube channel or click on the video below to check it out. If you enjoy the reading, I’d be thrilled if you would ‘like,’ subscribe, and hit the notification bell; it will help my channel to grow, and you’ll be the first to know when the latest read-a-louds are available. Thank you so much for your support!

To find the written review for A Man Called Ove and see the Two Pink Potted Flowers bookmark I was inspired to make, please click here.

Graphic of the A Man Called Ove front cover showing his blue silhouette peering down at the cat looking up to him. With a caption that says: Read the review and join the discussion about this soulful favourite at peachybooks.ca today, with an old military style Swedish watch in the background.
Blog Roll, book reviews, Contemporary Fiction

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

*Some Spoilers Within*

Oh dear, this book should come with a warning label or a box of tissues because as silly as I felt, I was crying my face off at least three times when reading it. And I am NOT a crier. Or at least I wasn’t until now. I had no choice in the matter. I fell in love with Ove and his neighbour Parvaneh and was so invested that I ended up buried deep in all the emotions the story heaps upon them.

Everyone knows someone like Ove: a grumpy, (possibly) old grouch who others assume is just mean and miserable by nature. This sour curmudgeon may be your grandpa or your aunt, a teacher or a neighbour, but they slog about in ill-temper, with a resting bitch face that could frighten a prison guard. 

With a busy schedule and the fear of the unknown providing a buffer, one’s inclination is self-preservation, and accordingly, you may opt to leave them alone to their misery. What both Ove’s wife Sonja and Parvaneh teach us is that our assumptions can be disastrously wrong. I found many similarities between their two personalities and how they related to Ove. 

His misunderstood and surly nature is a protective and well-honed coping mechanism, one he crafted as a lonely soul trudging through the depths of misfortune and sadness that life dragged him through. 

He has lived through harsh times, in that he has suffered many familial losses, heartache, and disappointment. A man from the old school, his steadfast principles are to work hard, be honest, and do the right thing, no matter what. Well, that and driving a Saab!

The untimely death of his virtuous father, rendering him an orphan in his teens, left him holding firmly to these inherited dogmas and, consequently, vulnerable and plagued with naivety.

The old adage no good deed goes unpunished ran through my mind often as he went it alone and learned about the hard lessons of life, suffering those who would take advantage of his righteous ways. 

Backman’s twisting of the past with the present gives us a clear view of the hardening that sets over Ove as trauma and tragedy mould him into the cantankerous sourpuss his neighbours know him to be. 

‘He knew very well that some people thought he was nothing but a grumpy old sod without any faith in people. But, to put it bluntly, that was because people had never given him reason to see it another way.

Quote by Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove: Because a time comes in all men's lives when they decide what sort of men they're going to be: the kind that lets other people walk all over them, or not, created by peachybooks.ca

As destiny would have it, another of Ove’s unfortunate setbacks was a heart condition that kept him from serving in the Military, that routine-laden world comprised of rules and purpose, where he felt he could belong. 

‘Military personnel wore uniforms and followed orders. All knew what they were doing. All had a function. Things had a place. Ove felt he could actually be good as a soldier. In fact, as he went down the stairs to have his obligatory medical examination, he felt lighter in his heart than he had for many years. As if he had been given a sudden purpose. A goal. Something to be.’

The best bit of fortune he ever received and the highlight of his days was meeting his effervescent bride-to-be, Sonja, on a passenger train one fateful day.

Sonja is life and love in colour, nurturing Ove and her wayward students with smiles of confidence and hope. She sees her husband for who he really is underneath the gruffness and the black and white. The love and appreciation they share for each other are the good stuff that made me feel the painful parts more keenly. 

‘And when one of her girlfriends asked why she loved him she answered that most men ran away from an inferno. But men like Ove ran into it.’

‘Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.’

With the passage of time and circumstance, Ove struggles with what remained of his life, as he lacks purpose and connection. Thanks to his job pushing him into early retirement and nothing or no one to live for, what was left?

‘And Ove didn’t know exactly when he became so quiet. He’d always been taciturn but this was something quite different. Maybe he had started talking more inside his own head. Maybe he was going insane (he did wonder sometimes). It was as if he didn’t want other people to talk to him, he was afraid that their chattering voices would drown out the memory of her voice.’

Queue Parvaneh and her cacophonous clan moving in across the way. 

Between breaking condo rules, asking for help, and showing up unannounced with home-cooked meals, they shove their way into the void of Ove’s darkened heart, and not a moment too soon. He’d had enough of the struggle to carry on and had been plotting his mortal exit, but thanks to the interruptions of his overly involved neighbours, he would be halted sometimes seconds before he was successful. 

The juxtaposition of the grumpy older man alongside the vivacious young mother was a pleasure to read. I could feel my spirits lifting with Ove’s as he started to connect with Parvaneh’s daughters, conspire to tease her dopey husband, and grow stronger from the purpose he again felt in his existence. 

It was heartwarming to watch the new seasons of Ove’s life as he blossomed again into a neighbour that put himself out for others, caring enough to do so. His rigidity began to soften while going with the flow of the new relationships being cultivated, his story unfurling into acceptance and light. 

This book was an emotional rollercoaster, completely worth the ride. Themes of friendship, purpose, and connection had me mournfully reflective of what the lack of these things means to our society during lockdowns and the isolation of this pandemic. How many Ove’s needing a Parvaneh can’t meet her because of this mess, and what can they do to persevere until things get back to normal? 

Community is the key to healing from loss and loneliness. Being a part of a group provides a sense of purpose and a feeling that people care whether you live or die. Sometimes that same community is the one thing that will prevent someone from succumbing to their struggle.

Don’t give up on yourself or your neighbour; be brave, make time, keep smiling, and let the Ove in your life have a second chance. 

One of the beautiful things about the internet and blogging is the ability to maintain community, even if we are isolated from others physically. The comments section is an excellent place to do that. Have you read A Man Called Ove? Did it make you ugly cry and have you running to clean your face before your family made fun of you, or maybe that was just me?😭🤭

Reading this moved me to make this adorable Two Pink Potted Flowers bookmark.

Image of a crochet bookmark with each end as a potted pink plant, in brown pots with a brown connecting chain.
Image of a crochet bookmark red DNA strand, sewn on a black and white rectangle, beside the book cover for The One by John Marrs, with a maple tree base of bark as the background. Beside it says: What if you could take a simple DNA test and be matched with your soulmate? Would you give everything you already have up to be matched with 'The One?' Read the peachybooks.ca review for this fast-paced thriller which follows 5 couples that take the test!
Blog Roll, book reviews, Contemporary Fiction

Book Review: The One by John Marrs

White book cover with red lettering, where the centre of the 'O' is a thumb print that appears to be depressed into a drop of blood: The One by John Marrs
Listen to the review here

Ooh, I ripped right through this wild ride, and no amount of ruckus from my little lad, ringing from the telephone, or beeping from the oven timer *insert photo of burnt rolls here* was able to break my concentration!

The One was a timely read for me, given I had recently read The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. The latter is a non-fiction book about Jennifer Doudna, one of the pioneering scientists behind the RNA CRISPR technology used for gene editing, and John Marrs’ offering is an inventive fictional story about soulmate matching via DNA chemistry. Not the same in premise, but with both selections, I found myself lost in thought about the ethics of scientists being able to play God, so to speak, and the unintended consequences of tampering with our genetic makeup.

Sure, it might seem like a splendid proposal, being matched with your soulmate, therefore bypassing all the wasted dates with Mr. or Ms. Wrong, and instead, being fast-tracked to blissful happiness…but what of the Mr. or Mrs. Mediocre that you love and were already married to – with 3 kids and a mortgage – before the advent of this Machiavellian scientist’s discovery? What about the people that don’t have matches, and become the lower tier of society: the ‘unmatched,’ and consequently, unloved? Damn, those unintended consequences sure can do a number on the innovations of society.

Ethical debates aside, this is one of the fastest-moving novels I have ever read. I’m sure that the adeptly crafted point-of-view changes between five different clients that were ‘matched’ with their DNA soulmate had a lot to do with this, but it is also an intensely suspenseful thriller that kept me fully immersed. It is like reading five independent books simultaneously, as each person’s story follows its ups, downs, and plot-twisting climaxes, but there is no struggle to keep them straight.

Each tale is unique and inspires reflection, yet my only contention with this style of writing in an average-sized novel is that there is no chance for any substantial character development. Maybe I’m just loyal to an aspect of a story that I cherish, though, and this isn’t required for all books, as clearly the entertainment value was not lacking.

There is a whole lot of crazy in these characters, as well as some exceptionally creative plot lines that challenge conventional wisdom. This had me curious about Marrs’ other books and what unique perspectives they may offer, so halfway through The One I took a trip to his Goodreads Author page, where I promptly added all of his books to my queue, haha. I’m not sure when I think I’m going to read all of the thousands of books on my growing TBR list, but I digress.

The themes offered throughout, however succinct in their delivery, are surrounding love, manipulation, desperation, mental illness, and revenge. Although you won’t find any earth-shattering quotes to pin up on your mirror, the writing is sound and the flow is smooth. I’m going to give this one a 4.5 peaches, with that half a peach remaining for the loss I felt of not being invited to know the characters and their motivations more keenly.

So, the next time you find yourself in the dreaded reading rut, give this one a go, it will blow your mind!

This is the DNA Strand bookmark I was inspired to make after reading The One.

Crochet black and white rectangular bookmark with a red dna strand crocheted on the top, photographed at the base of a maple tree on the bark.

Peachy Books June in Review: In The Woods by Tana French, Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book - 11th Edition, Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski, The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell
Blog Roll, Contemporary Fiction, Monthly Reading Recall

Peachy Books’ June in Review

June was slower in the reading department than I would have liked, but I’m all right with that, given the time I’ve spent on this blog. I still managed a cookbook and five fictional books, with two of them reviewed and posted. If you haven’t, be sure to check those out below, and stay tuned for reviews of the middle-grade hits: The Good Thieves and Aliens on Vacation, which are on deck!


In The Woods by Tana French

The first volume in the highly popular Dublin Murder Squad Series, In The Woods, is a thrill-ride in psychology and the complexity of relationships… and there’s a murder to be solved too.

Tana French lulls you with prose whilst burying you deeper into the myriad of plotlines that she weaves together like a fine tapestry. If you’re not one of the more than a million people who have already read it, don’t miss this gripping tale that may even shed some light on the people in your life who have often left you feeling perplexed.

Read the full review and see the Celtic bookmark I was inspired to make here.


Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

While his busy parents tend to their ever-consuming careers, David, aka Scrub, is shipped off to The Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast for the summer. It is at this wild and wacky place that he’ll get to know his estranged Grandmother, a few of her unique guests, and a special friend named Amy.

What an enjoyable middle-grade story this was, with my son. The well-drawn characters were odd and expressive, which led to some funny voices for the reading. I especially enjoyed Scrub’s hippie Grandma with the rose-coloured glasses.

Check out the excerpt that I read for Storytime Saturday here.

And the full review here.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Get out your tissues, you’re going to need them!

Ultimately, this is contemplative tale of a cantankerous man trying to come to terms with living (and dying) after suffering the most considerable loss of his life.

A Man Called Ove reminds us that regardless of assumption, one can never really know what people are going through when we encounter them in our daily existence, and how kindness, connection, and a sense of purpose can go a long way.

To read the complete review and see the bookmark I was moved to make, click here.

To listen to the audio review instead, click here.


Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook – 11th Edition

This read was a blast from the past, and is the quintessential cook book of my childhood. Although I don’t turn to it very often, it is a great selection for bake sale items, and classic North American fare, that will always occupy a spot on my cookbook shelf.

Find photos of the recipe trials I performed for 3 of the dishes my son picked out, in The Cookery, here.


Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

A semi-autobiographical novel by one of the great polarising artists of the last century, Ham on Rye gives us the scary, sorrowful, and sudsy retelling of a hard-knock life.

This one brought up many emotions for me, as I empathised with Henry Chinaski and his abusive and isolating beginnings. Reading this book just before Father’s Day had a profound effect on my review.

Don’t miss the full review: written and audio

Coming Soon to Peachy Books…

Image of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine book with a crochet red, orange, yellow, and plum phoenix from the flames bookmark
book reviews, Contemporary Fiction

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Blue Book Cover for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Gail Honeyman

*Some Spoilers Within*

The month of May is about Mental Health Awareness, and as someone who has been battling with mental health throughout life, I am always eager to recognise the occasion. This year I am doing so by reading and reviewing Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Of course, Eleanor isn’t fine, and herein lies the façade of wellness that people masquerade behind, and that others are willing to accept to keep their own ‘wellness’ properly shielded. What a perfectly fine way to keep everyone teetering on the edge of madness. It’s time to change that, and it starts with honest and unflinching stories like this one.

Eleanor is not an easy woman to admire, as she is judgemental, unabashedly ornery, and wallows in misery. Some might find her downright annoying because of these attributes, but I am rather fond of her because of them. The realness that she exudes is exactly what I would expect of someone having gone through the traumas that she has shouldered, and Honeyman has written a phenomenally accurate portrayal of a broken and abandoned soul, arrested in development, and closed down to human connection.

I wasn’t good at pretending, that was the thing. After what had happened…given what went on there, I could see no point in being anything other than truthful with the world. I had, literally, nothing left to lose.

As uncomfortable as her behaviour might be for others, it is her reality that has moulded her, and most would likely carry on the same way if handed her experiences. Do we just cast away and ignore broken people, those who make us feel uneasy? At the very least we shun them socially, thus we’re not reminded of their pain.

Favourite Quote by Gail Honeyman in the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: "If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn't spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say."

Imagine, if you will, living every day of your life without a parent that loves you. As sad as it is, a lot of people in the world have a void in place of ONE of their parental figures. Either of the two people charged to love, cherish, and support a child instead have either used, abused, or abandoned them, sometimes all three. But being dealt the double whammy of having two duds for a mom and dad, now, that’s a rough ride. Add foster care and no other family to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for the social pariah that is Eleanor.

I wondered if that’s what it would be like in a family–if you had parents, or a sister, say, who would be there, no matter what.

Life is full of suffering, and making it in a world that will chew you up even when you’ve been sent in fortified with a force field of unconditional love is one thing, but what happens to those without a stitch of armour? They become hardened, disconnected, fearful, and live by the mantra, ‘I will get them before they get me.’ Not a very pleasant way to be, but a harsh reality, nonetheless.

I had no one, and it was futile to wish it were otherwise. After all, it was no more than I deserved. And really, I was fine, fine, fine.

At times you’ll see people invalidate the struggle of someone like Eleanor, lambaste them and instruct them that all they need to do is pull up their bootstraps and deal with their childhood issues like it’s just a rite of passage or a hill to climb; besides everyone has problems, right? But when you haven’t a soul that cares for you, how do you know how to care for others, least of all yourself? How do you realise that you are even worth it?

I pondered this. Was that what people wanted for their children, for them to be happy? It certainly sounded plausible.

It has been my experience that it takes just one person to show kindness and affection to someone who has lived a life in survival mode, to make all the difference and set things in motion towards betterment, and for Eleanor, Raymond is that person.

Quote from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: "Sometimes you simply needed someone kind to sit with you while you dealt with things."

Raymond is a kind and endearing chap that fate has dangled in the path of Eleanor, and not a moment too soon. Although she hasn’t the ability to recognise the fortune that their becoming friends affords her, we the readers are able to see how his lightness of spirit is able to envelop the darkness of Eleanor’s heart, and how she slowly evolves into whom she was always meant to be.

Raymond is a saint, that’s for certain, as Eleanor undoubtedly tests the limits of his friendship with her quirky, bold, and destructive ways, but because he is a true friend who cares for her unconditionally -something she has never personally experienced before – her fortress of fear and judgement cracks, and she makes a metamorphic shift.

Eleanor, I said to myself, sometimes you’re too quick to judge people…The voice in my head – my own voice – was actually quite sensible, and rational, I’d begun to realise. It was Mummy’s voice that had done all the judging, and encouraged me to do so too. I was getting to quite like my own voice, my own thoughts. I wanted more of them. They made me feel good, calm even. They made me feel like me.

This novel will tear you down and toss you up, spin you around and leave you coming out dizzy by its surprise ending, but it is so worth the read. Eleanor is mistrusting, damaged, frightened, and unaware of the possibilities that life holds for her, but she is also a survivour and an inspiration. No matter the devastating circumstances that we are made privy to throughout, by the novels conclusion we are left uplifted, cheery, and exalted by a life headed in the right direction. A perfect selection for a discussion about the importance of mental health, and the ways to achieve it.

“In the end, what matters is this: I survived.” I gave him a very small smile. “I survived, Raymond!” I said, knowing that I was both lucky and unlucky, and grateful for it.

Favourite New Word:

sybarite – (noun)  /ˈsɪb.ər.aɪt/ A person devoted to pleasure and luxury; a voluptuary.

Eleanor inspired me to make a bookmark of the phoenix rising from the flames.

Image of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine book with a crochet red, orange, yellow, and plum phoenix from the flames bookmark