The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr
A sweet, charming, easy read ideal for fans of Eleanor Oliphant.
Everyone in our club read, finished and enjoyed this book which is a recommendation and a rarity! It was well written, easy to read, funny and sad in equal parts and with an interesting story running through it. We thought the rules were those which most people automatically know and try to adhere to but even “normal/typicals” struggle with the one that says you have to adapt them to suit the situation. Not being familiar with this type of situation we were unsure whether the way the story developed was entirely realistic but it was very enjoyable. The parenting of both mother and father left a lot to be desired and Elvira managed to grow up and eventually function at a reasonable level in general society in spite of their efforts rather than because of them. In the case of teaching her the nuances of male/female relationships her upbringing left a lot to be desired and caused Elvira considerable difficulty.
The characters were well drawn and developed and the story drew us in making us want to know what happened next. Altogether a very enjoyable read and we scored it a very healthy 7.5 out of 10.
Elvira Carr is autistic and wonderful. This whole book is about her and quite rightly so. When she is left an orphan at the age of 27 she is determined to cope on her own.
Elvira (commonly known as Ellie) is aware that she has a “condition”. Although this condition is never explicitly named it is clearly some form of autism. One of her main challenges is interpreting the world around her, especially those issues which have to do with social interaction. Facial expressions are a bit of a mystery to her, but she manages these by having learnt what the different looks mean - mouth turned up at the ends means happy, tears mean sad etc. However, figures of speech are a different kettle of fish altogether. And therein lies the problem. Unwittingly our use of language has developed a reliance on idioms which have become part and parcel of everyday speech. The whole concept is totally incomprehensible to Ellie, who takes everything literally. It is obvious to the speaker that “speech is a different kettle of fish” has nothing whatsoever to do with either a kitchen gadget or a swimming vertebrate. Not so for Ellie. She takes it at face value and cannot fathom its meaning. Another problem for Ellie is that she always tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is an issue because those around her do not necessarily want to hear what she has to say. When her overbearing mother dies and Ellie is left to cope on her own, Ellie is, in some sense, liberated. Yes, she has lost her lifetime protector but she has also been given the freedom to discover herself and explore the world around her in a way that her mother would never have allowed. She does her best and goes on all sorts of adventures - not “big” adventures in the great scheme of things, just life as most of us know it. To Ellie life is a bit of a minefield. She is helped along the way by Sylvia, a well-meaning, but not very bright neighbour who does her best until Ellie and her daughter fall out over a misunderstanding. She encounters various other people in the course of her daily routines and she has to learn (sometimes the hard way) whether they can be trusted or not. Ultimately she writes herself a set of “rules” which help her to cope with other people. They are not fool-proof but they do help.
Welcome to Ellie’s world. It is an inspiring one and we can all learn from it.
I enjoyed every second of this book from beginning to end. Elvira captured my heart and I will not forget her for a very long time.
Words are something that fascinate me and this was an aspect of the book that I particularly enjoyed. For me, comprehending some of Elvira’s issues with idioms was a bit like deciphering a puzzle, the phrase often seeming so obvious that I could not see how it could possibly be misinterpreted. And then it suddenly becomes clear and, yes, I realise that we do say the daftest of things at times. Where on earth did these ridiculous figures of speech come from?
I would recommend this book to anybody and everybody. It is heart-warming, informative and wonderful. It is also heart-breaking at times but then we’re dealing with life and life is never easy. It is just harder for someone like Elvira and we can all learn a lesson from that.
Lastly I would like to say a big Thank You to Frances Maynard for writing such an inspirational and brilliant book.
This is a delightful read. Elvira is different. She knows this, but is dominated by her mother who prevents her from achieving independence and so when her mother is taken into care Elvira begins to interact with the world at the age of 27. She keeps house meticulously and gives social services no reason to take her into care. This has been a threat of her mother’s for many years. She sees her loving father for short periods throughout her childhood and is told that he works abroad, but she suspects he is in the Secret Service.
It is only after the death of her father and stroke of her mother that the reality of their lives begins to be uncovered. Elvira gets a computer. She begins to volunteer at an animal sanctuary. She writes seven rules for life and, for the first time learns that she has relatives. Her unlikely mentor is her next door neighbour and together they help her find true independence friendship and family.