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Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
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Eleanor Rigby (2004)

by Douglas Coupland

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This was the fifth Coupland book I read, & I think its up there as a favourite with Girlfriend in a Coma. I liked the way the story built to its conclusion, although that conclusion was a little too soppy for my tastes. I thought the basic themes of the book were interesting - how people can change those around them, & how parents & the children they had put up for adoption attempt to come to terms with being in one another's lives again. As with a lot of Coupland's stuff, he takes reality & mixes in a bit of fantasy to mess with the story a little, & as I've always found he makes it work as he doesn't take it too far. Good book, nothing too taxing. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
Douglas Coupland is about my age and I've been reading his books since the beginning of his career. I always feel like I can relate to what he's writing and he's a great writer and story teller. ( )
  debbie.menzel | Feb 6, 2014 |
Thank you SO much, Doug Coupland, for everything you write. One major quote from this book: " ...death without the possibility of changing the world was the same as a life that never was." ( )
  c_why | Feb 13, 2012 |
Liz Dunn has verged on being invisible for most of her life and she spends much of her time attempting to avoid loneliness. Her dull life is irrevocably altered when she receives a phone call and discovers her name is on the Medic Alert bracelet of a young man she's never met.

Coupland is an excellent writer of literary fiction whom I've always enjoyed and I wasn't disappointed when I picked up this novel. He beautifully writes about the issue of loneliness for a middle-aged single woman living alone in Vancouver. Her voice is clear and the passages in which she reflects on herself and her struggle with loneliness are so evocative. The other characters in her life are equally rich that provide flashes of humour and contrast to Liz. The prose is harsh and realistic but beautiful at the same time, and the narrative, while heading to darker places, ultimately arrives in a more optimistic place. ( )
  MickyFine | Sep 28, 2011 |
For Liz Dunn, life is fairly routine, dull and lonely. She's single, overweight, works a fairly tedious job and tries to put on a comrade-like face when dealing with co-workers. She doesn't realize how stuck in a rut she is until a Vancouver hospital calls, saying that a young man has been admitted, and the only number he carries happens to be hers. She visits him in the hospital and takes a chance on him, allowing the charming young man with strange, apocalyptic visions of farmers, into her home, changing her outlook of loneliness and life forever.

"Eleanor Rigby" weaves a fun tale of a woman overcoming her self-made obstacles to regain the life she thought she would never have. As Liz begins to learn more about the mysterious young man, she re-examines her teen years, realizing her life wasn't as bad as she makes it out to be. She traveled to Europe on her own, made a fairly decent amount of money in the stock market, and has a secret that at one time, she thought would be her undoing but instead has made her a better person. I like that she grows as the story progresses, and as a reader, I can see the changes as she becomes more outgoing and learns to allow others into her life rather than keeping them at a distance. Oh, and her conversations with the young stranger are wonderfully written, the kind of talks I wish I could have with people, saying whatever comes to mind and not feeling judged for it.

It's well worth reading, and I recommend it highly. ( )
1 vote ocgreg34 | Mar 29, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
And as the narrative descends into a series of wacky, quasi-spiritual coincidences involving meteorites and foreign soul mates, it tranforms from a novel into a Rube Goldberg device brutally determined to produce a nugget of poignancy. It's a lost opportunity. While Liz insists she is unique, she's got sisters -- a legion of cranky-plain heroines from Jane Eyre to Peppermint Patty. Instead of following their path, ''Eleanor Rigby'' dwindles chapter by chapter into a high-art twist on chick lit -- aiming for bittersweet but tasting at last suspiciously of artificial sweetener.
 
At a cursory look this book risks whimsy, seems a rather slender story about a middle-aged woman finding herself. A more careful reading reveals an utterly integrated and impossibly lightly held fable of blindness and vision. Its title acts as exactly the social synonym it is, not just for loneliness but for popular expectations of women of a certain age and spinster state, nothing more to look forward to than being buried along with their names.
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, Ali Smith (Oct 9, 2004)
 
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I had always thought that a person born blind and given sight later in life through the miracles of modern medicine would feel reborn.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0007162537, Hardcover)

Liz Dunn isn't morbid, she's just a lonely woman with a very pragmatic outlook on life. Overweight, underemployed, and living in a nondescript condo with nothing but chocolate pudding in the fridge, she has pretty much given up on anything interesting ever happening to her. Everything changes when she gets an unexpected phone call from a Vancouver hospital and a stranger takes on a very intimate place in her life. From here the plot of Douglas Coupland's Eleanor Rigby skyrockets into a very bizarre world, rife with reverse sing-alongs and apocalyptic visions of frantic farmers. The style and plot paths are very identifiably Coupland--slightly mystical, off-kilter, and very, very smart. Ultimately a novel about the burden of loneliness, Eleanor Rigby takes its characters through strange and sometimes nearly unimaginable predicaments.

Fans of Douglas Coupland's later novels, particularly Hey Nostradamus! and Miss Wyoming, are bound to like Eleanor Rigby. Like many of his novels, the journey is strange and unexpected but you come out at the other end with a snapshot of a sardonic and bizarre but ever-so-slightly hopeful place. --Victoria Griffith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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