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Eleanor Rigby [French] [Mass Market Paperback]

Douglas Coupland , Christophe Grosdidier
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: £6.09
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Book Description

7 May 2009
“The Liz Dunns of this world tend to get married, and then twenty-three months after their wedding and the birth of their first child they establish sensible lower maintenance hairdos that last them forever. Liz Dunns take classes in croissant baking, and would rather chew on soccer balls than deny their children muesli… I am a traitor to my name.”

Liz Dunn is one of the world’s lonely people. She’s in her late thirties and has a boring cubicle job at a communications company, doing work that is only slightly more bearable than the time she spends alone in her depressingly sterile box of a condo. Her whole life, she’s tried to get to the root of her sadness, to figure out what she’s been doing wrong, with little success. But then, one night in 1997, everything changes: while standing in the parking lot of a video store, arms full of sappy movies she’s rented to help her convalesce from oral surgery, she witnesses the passing of the Hale-Bopp comet. For Liz, this streak of light across the sky is a portent of radical change — and for her, radical change means finally accepting her lot: “I realized that my life, while technically adequate, had become all it was ever going to be … No more trying to control everything — it was now time to go with the flow.” In that moment, and for the first time, Liz feels truly free.

A day after Liz makes the decision to seek peace in her life rather than control, along comes another comet, in the form of a stranger admitted to the local hospital with her name and number inscribed on his MedicAlert bracelet. For the new Liz, the phone call from the hospital feels like “the fulfillment of a prophecy”; the young man, it turns out, is her son, whom she gave up for adoption when she was sixteen. Jeremy shows the scars of his years as a foster child and his most recent drug reaction, but is otherwise beautiful and charming. And when he moves in with Liz to recuperate, it’s as if both of them had been waiting for this moment all their lives.

A lost soul and occasional visionary, Jeremy upends Liz’s quiet existence — shocking her coworkers and family, redecorating her condo, getting her to reevaluate her past and take an active role in her future. But he’s also very ill with multiple sclerosis. Her son’s life-and-death battle induces a spiritual awakening in Liz — then triggers a chain of events that take her to the other side of the world and back, endangering her life just as an unexpected second chance at happiness finally seems within reach.

With Eleanor Rigby, Douglas Coupland has given us a powerful and entertaining portrait of a woman who could be any one of us — someone who thinks it is too late to make anything of her life, who feels defeated by the monotony of her days, yet who also holds within her the potential for monumental change and for great love. When Liz asks, “What happens when things stop being cosmic and become something you can hold in your hand in a very real sense?” she’s not just talking about stray meteors anymore. The excitement of not really knowing the answer is what life’s all about. In the end, Liz discovers that life is no longer a matter of keeping an even keel until you die, or settling for peace and quiet, but of embracing faith and hope and change.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: 10 (7 May 2009)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 2264047186
  • ISBN-13: 978-2264047182
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 879,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A high spirited moving study of loneliness and all its opposites.’ Observer Books of the Year.

‘A powerful and moving examination of a life lived negotiating loneliness.’ Independent

‘“Eleanor Rigby” is one of Coupland’s subtlest indictments yet of Yankee-yuppie culture.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Bristles with acerbic observations of modern life.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Funny, unexpected and fragile, here [Coupland is] the chronicler of our potentials rather than our losses.’ Guardian

'Douglas Coupland has surely reserved his place at the top table of North American fiction.' Independent on Sunday

'Nothing less than sublime' Time Out

'Far too wise to offer answers, but affirms that seeking them is a necessary part of our humanity.' Independent

'Coupland's last four novels are so good and so distinctive that they seem to me to mark a genuine seismic shift in the literary landscape.' Nicholas Blincoe, New Statesman

'Coupland has passion and pace, intelligence and wit. If you find anything about the way we live now disturbing and wrong, he is your man.' Daily Telegraph

'Coupland at his best can make a single phrase say more than many another writer's whole novel.' LRB

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

DOUGLAS COUPLAND first came to prominence as the author of Generation X (1995). He followed that with a sequence of ever-more daring and inventive novels, including Life After God, Girlfriend in a Coma and, most recently, Hey Nostradamus! He lives in Vancouver.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coupland still bittersweet 23 Sep 2004
By A Customer
Before I begin this review, I should say that I am a huge Coupland fan. When I saw his new book in a shop window, I had to get it straight away.
This book is similar in style to his later books - especially Girlfriend In A Coma, in that spectacular coincidences are dropped into the main characters life at various moments. Without giving anything away, some very strange events occur, but they are only made clear gradually, so that the reader is left trying to decide what on earth could have caused such an event. It is almost never what you expect.
However, where "Girlfriend" still had a sense of teen-agey angst about it, this book seems more about dealing with getting older. As far as I recall, this is the first book he has written entirely from a female perspective. The main theme of the book is loneliness. His writing style leaves me speechless sometimes - the ability to weave such poetry from the tiniest parts of everyday life, in a way that takes your breath away:
"We cripple our children by not telling them what loneliness is, all of its shades, and tones, and implications. When it clubs us on the head, usually just after we leave home, we're blind-sided. We have no idea what hit us. We think we're diseased, schizoid, bipolar, monstrous and lacking in dietary chromium, It takes us until thirty to figure out what sucked the joy form our youth, that made our brains shriek and burn on the inside, even while our exteriors made us seem as confident and bronzed as Qantas pilots. Loneliness."
But the book is far from depressing - the overall message of the book is distinctly optimistic, with a fair dash of the darkest humour:
"I have trouble with any meat whose name also describes what the meat used to do before it became meat"..."Hi - before I was sautéed in onions, I spent my life refining impurities from a cow's bloodstream".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless themes in the modern world 9 Sep 2004
By A Customer
The central theme of Douglas Coupland's novel is loneliness. It's main protagonist and narrator is Liz Dunn, a woman left on the shelf. The novel recounts life from childhood in the 1970s to the present, via a possible but slightly fantastical (as with many of the events in his work) plot twist that produces a son to change her life and (temporarily) relive her loneliness.
Liz, for much of the novel, is lonely and at pains to emphasise her plainness, but to the reader she remains warm and pitiless and witty. We feel much sympathy for her (perhaps this is also because of our own fears of being alone), but you feel she would balk at our pity and rarely feels sorry for herself. The narration is typical of a Coupland character, with believable use of language and reference for the narrator, and inspiring imagery.
As in Coupland's other work, the central character is supported by some wonderfully drawn supporting characters, most especially Liz' angrily determined and bothersome mother, and her son Jeremy, whose appearance lights both Liz's world and the reader's. The relationships between children and parents and siblings are strained but loving and eternal, as indeed is the case with most families.
The novel, as so many of his, is set in Vancouver, but I think that this Vancouver is largely incidental; the changes in location are not as important as changes in time, and the locations rather reflect this. Rome and Vienna symbolise the old and Vancouver the new. Indeed in this novel, time is a location, and the differences between the world of the protagonist's childhood and the 21st Century are acute.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I have to agree with Lenininatutu(!) to a certain extent. Ages ago I read Girlfriend In A Coma and was blown away by it, it may have been the quickest I've read a book ever. I just loved it. Since then I tried Microserfs and Generation X but just couldn't get into them, much to my disappointment. Hey Nostrodamus was a different story (no pun intended), I loved it all the way to the end, when nothing really happened. Nothing was solved and I just felt let down. Eleanor Rigby was a lot more satisfying, I even had a bit of a cry. It's a really good story with my favourite kind of character - the ones that makes you question yourself. The farmers got on my nerves tho. I think my problem is that I just expect too much from Douglas since Girlfriend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back on form... 22 Sep 2004
By A Customer
After my disappointment with Miss Wyoming and Hey Nostradamus! I was quite wary of this new novel...
I shouldn't have been.
I don't know why i adore Douglas Coupland as much as i do, maybe it's because he manages to write about people you wouldn't usually think about, in an amazingly simple but beautiful way. Eleanor Rigby is a fine example of this.
I am not sure if Douglas Coupland will ever write as good a book as Generation X again, but i do know that as long as he keeps his wonderfully simple (yet also somehow complex at the same time) stories up, i will keep coming back for more.
i don't want to give anything of the plot away, so forgive me for not talking about the actual story too much! But, take my word for it - it's lovely.
Hey Nostradamus! had the potential to be a brilliant book but i am not sure he knew where he wanted it to go or even how he wanted it to get there... it came across as a very hard book to write and i would love to know how happy he was with the finished product.
Eleanor Rigby is simply a very good book, which i finished too quickly (a bad habit with good books!), but when i passed it on to my partner to read i did so with a very big smile and nothing but praise.
It's good to have Douglas Coupland back on form and making me grin.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Liz boring ?? No !!
Fabulous book.

In creative book writing workshop I was taught to create character profiles, with what you would expect and also something unusual. Read more
Published on 22 July 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave & beautiful
I very much wanted to write a review for this wonderful book but everyone before me has said everything I wanted to say. Read more
Published on 15 May 2012
3.0 out of 5 stars eleanor rigby
i was quite surprised when it came that it was an ex library book but was on good condition! interesting book though a little far fetched , good on medical details
Published on 6 Sep 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars Eleanor Rigby
I am told this is a very good book by the person it was bought for as it also was a very fair price and free P&P I will award 5 stars
Published on 25 Jun 2011 by William Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars All the lonely people
Beginning with the era-defining Generation X, I've read almost all Douglas Coupland's books, greatly enjoying his quirky, sympathetic take on the human condition. Read more
Published on 11 Mar 2011 by Jeremy Walton
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and moving in some parts
Although disjoined with leaps back and forward through time, the way loneliness is portrayed is excellent and Coupland's word play and style seems to completely vary from his prior... Read more
Published on 30 May 2010 by Paul M
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This novel by Coupland is one of his best yet. Painfully beautiful to read as he depicts the life of a very lonely woman. Coupland have exceeded himself with this book. Read more
Published on 22 April 2010
3.0 out of 5 stars "I'm drab, crabby and friendless. I fill my days fighting a constant...
Well, Eleanor Rigby is a definite improvement on Girlfriend in a Coma. The characters are well-drawn and I did care about them: and there are plenty of witty Coupland-esque... Read more
Published on 20 Dec 2008
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!
Like most Coupland, it was slow to start but it was worth the wait! I loved the initial emotional pain you felt for the aurator and the other main characters, however I also felt... Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2007
4.0 out of 5 stars Eleanor Rigby
Most of this book is shatteringly good. It portrays the loneliness of a single woman so well it was painful to read - the reality, and the bitter understanding of it, is amazingly... Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2006
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