Summary: The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett
The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett caught my eye, thanks to its stunning cover. I’m also one of those people who is simultaneously irritated and intrigued by blurbs that say a book is for “fans of Eleanor Oliphant.” This one did not disappoint.
Eudora Honeysett is an 85-year-old woman who is tired of modern society and planning to die by euthanasia in Switzerland. She is recovering from a recent fall, when a new family moves in next door to her. Their little girl Rose is outgoing and determined to befriend Eudora. She invites Eudora on outings and also ropes in their other elderly neighbor, Stanley on these adventures.
The book unfolds in alternating timelines, one in the present, and one following Eudora’s childhood. As the story continues, we follow Eudora’s continued plans for her death, her friendship with Rose and Stanley, and how her past has impacted her present.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It tackles an important, but often uncomfortable subject: mortality. Eudora is not afraid to die, but she wants control over the way she dies, and the way she lives before her death. Stanley is a widower who’s grieving the loss of his wife, so there’s a bit of grief too. Now, that sounds like a soggy sad story, but the amazing thing is that it’s not! A strong point in this story is how genuinely funny it is. The book is chock-full of dry British humor and Rose is just a precocious, sweet girl.
I also liked the inclusion of Eudora’s past because it helps the reader understand her motivations, and was a great way to show us why she’s the way she is, instead of telling us. I don’t want to spoil anything about her past, but it was very eye-opening, and there’s a lot of family dysfunction, loss, and surprise involved. As much as this book is about dying, it’s also about life and the beauty of new life, the joys of family, and the restorative power of good friendships.
Overall: The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett
The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett is a poignant, moving, and funny meditation on life and mortality. With a unforgettable wry, warmhearted protagonist, this book explores the effects of aging, and how society treats the elderly — both the heartwarming, and the heartbreaking. It also examines how childhood grief can shape a person’s life, as well as how re-invigorating the company of the young can be for the elderly. Simultaneously wistful and delightful, this book makes for an enjoyable and inspiring read, especially if you like books with senior protagonists. And, the audiobook is fantastic! Highly recommend.
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Have you read this book or any others by Annie Lyons? This is my first book by this author? Who are your favorite British authors?
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