three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
15-Mar-Apr-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-EleanorRigbyFor more than 40 years, Liz Dunn, an overweight, plain Vancouver woman, has led a featureless existence—no friends, no boyfriend, and a dead-end job. All that changes when she meets a troubled boy named Jeremy who arrives in her life at the same time as the Hale-Bopp comet. Jeremy’s unconventional sensibilities and personal connection to Liz penetrate her shell of crabby loneliness, forcing her to both relive her past and confront her future.
Bloomsbury. 249 pages. $22.95. ISBN: 1582345236

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[T]he author does well by honoring Liz’s sufferings and ruminations rather than treating them with sarcasm or condescension. … This book is funny and strange, but it’s also moving and bittersweet." Carmela Ciuraru

Boston Herald 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Liz and Jeremy are emotionally stunted souls, so don’t look for tearful hugs and reconciliation here. … Eleanor Rigby remains as thoughtful and melancholy as the Beatles song its title evokes." Judith Wynn

Hartford Courant 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Liz may be ugly and boring, but Coupland manages to draw this character without boring us. Isolated and withdrawn as she is, she falls easily into conversation, and the conversations are wonderful." Kit Reed

NY Times Book Review 2 of 5 Stars
"… 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." Emily Nussbaum

Minneapolis Star Tribune 1 of 5 Stars
"Eleanor Rigby is littered with so many outrageous coincidences and subplots that it’s difficult to feel anything for the characters, much less see them beyond their roles as clinical examples for clumsy metaphors." Cherie Parker

Critical Summary

Author of 1991’s seminal Generation X, Canadian author Coupland has a lot to live up to. Eleanor Rigby’s detractors claim that Coupland has lost his touch, and they dismiss his heroine as derivative and unrealistic. Others feel the author is in top form and praise him for making the dull Liz shine. Coupland’s dialogue raises another point of debate; one critic derided him for his stilted phrases, while another found the same phrases wonderfully engaging. Eleanor Rigby is unlikely to find as large a following as Generation X did, but it may prove enjoyable for those who can put up with Liz’s crankiness.