REVIEW: The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett
I picked up THE BRILLIANT LIFE OF EUDORA HONEYSETT without too much knowledge about it, and I am SO glad I did! Spoiler: I LOVED IT.
Eudora Honeysett is an octogenarian (my favorite new vocabulary word meaning someone in their eighties), has seen all the world has to offer, and has decided she is done. In her experience, most of the world is cruel, unfeeling, rude, and selfish. There is nothing left to live for. Eudora wants to be in control when it's her time to go, and she sets in motion a plan to accomplish her goal. In the middle of all this, a new family moves in next door, and the vibrant and sparkling life of Rose intersects with hers. Eudora's life is never the same again. When it's finally time to put her plan in motion, will Eudora go through with it?
When I first met Eudora, I wanted to wrap her in the biggest hug and tell her that she is loved. I could tell she had experienced some tragedies in her life. Author Annie Lyons does a fantastic job making you feel empathetic towards Eudora - even if you don't quite understand or agree with the decisions she has made in her life. Her relationship with Rose is what absolutely steals the show. Eudora isn't sure about this bubbly ten year old next door neighbor, but allows herself to be (somewhat) dragged on all types of adventures. Rose is a fairly typical child with a unique fashion sense who is full of life and shares all of who she is with everyone she meets. Stanley, another neighbor, also gets pulled along and the three make a happy little trio going to the pizza parlor, the merry go round, the beach, and more.
"'We're friends,' declares Rose.
Eudora is astonished, 'Are we?'
'Aren't we?' asks Rose (from page 43).
I'll be honest, at first I wasn't sure I was going to finish this book. If you haven't figured it out already, Eudora's plan to be in control of when and how she dies involves euthanasia. I was very uncomfortable with her thoughts on choosing this path forward, and it made me so sad that someone (even a fictional someone) felt this was their only way out. Realistically, it was her blooming relationship with Rose that saved the book for me and kept me engaged with finishing this story. I believe that Annie Lyons wrote the book this way on purpose, and she executed it beautifully. All three people in the delightful little trio (Eudora, Rose, and Stanley who I've hardly mentioned but was endearing in his own special way) grew so much. The story wrapped in such a satisfactory and emotionally charged way, I cannot imagine anything else. It was perfect.
Annie Lyons wrote this book when her own mother was going through the end of life, and I'm sure the thoughts and feelings represented are an accurate representation of some people. According to an author interview (located in the back of my book), Annie Lyons hopes that Eudora can be a stepping stone for people to open up and talk about hard topics like death and dying in a more honest and vulnerable way. I know I don't like to think - much less talk about - death and dying, but I did find myself talking about it with my partner immediately upon finishing.
This book made me laugh, cringe, cry, hope, and so much more. I experienced life within these pages, and it wrecked me. If you haven't read this book, please do so. It's a great way to begin to talk about some really difficult subjects (like dying) in a manageable way. And if you need to talk to anyone when you're done, I'm here to listen. I'll leave you with one of the most important lessons various characters say throughout the book: "Life is precious and as long as we have a reason to continue, we should follow that path" (page 235).
Content Warnings: death, suicide, euthanasia, war stories, depression, abuse, home birth, over dosing, death of a pet
Note: if you are dealing with thoughts of self harm and/or that your life is worthless, please reach out and talk to a trusted individual. Here in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255. You are dearly loved even when it doesn't feel like it.