Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Pamela Dorman Books, 336 pages, $26
I’m pretty sure I am too old to read “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” with the intended joie d’esprit. The book was cute, but I wondered in the end how the first part logically related to the second part. Was it possible for a person to change radically through the kindness of strangers? Was it possible for someone to stubbornly hang onto the hope that someone else would change? Was it possible to have a happily ever after given the premise? I guess that’s why this is fiction. The author obviously didn’t have my qualms and answered the questions to her satisfaction.
I guess if I had written this story, my version would have been a tragedy. Luckily for the world I didn’t.
Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
Harper Perennial, 270 pages, $15.99
“Death at La Fenice” was the first in the now-plump series starring Commissario Guido Brunetti of Venice, Italy. This introduced us to the astute and convivial Brunetti, his charming (and almost perfect) family, and the exigencies of life as a Venetian policeman. He knows both opera and what motivates the common man. He can find his way through the labyrinth created by Venetian alleys and streets. He is incorruptible but not hidebound. Donna Leon’s series is articulate and a tourist brochure for Venice without being fawning.
I re-read this book for MBTB’s Second Book Group. It was a pleasure to re-acquaint myself with this charming novel.