Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published by Viking – Pamela Dorman Book in 2017
Verdict: Pretty good
I’ll admit I read this in a couple of sittings. I am pretty sick with the flu at the moment and I’m too tired to do much else as I recover. I enjoyed this. I can understand the social awkwardness the main character has and I can appreciate an orderly and solitary life like the one she lives. But first…
Let’s talk about Eleanor. She’s that socially awkward person that most offices has, keeps to herself, is very private, doesn’t seem to have many friends. Usually the target of that vile verbal workplace bullying. You know the kind. She has a very structured week where everyday is the same, then on Friday she gets a pizza from Tesco and multiple bottles of vodka on her way home and spends the rest of her weekend in utter solitude and silence until Monday comes around again. She has impeccable grammar, thriftyness and a hilarious tendency to purchase weird objects to fill her home.
This is the opening to the book. That and a suspicion that something terrible happened to this woman. She is covered in scars, including on her face, that she is quite private about. This mystery slowly unravels as the book progresses and helps the reader understand her almost crippling loneliness. She’s not one to shy away from adventure though, as she goes out to a club with some co-workers and promptly falls in love with the singer of a band she sees. Her solitude is taken up by hatching plans to meet the singer she’s destined for. Around the same time that this happens, she and work colleague, Raymond, help an old man who falls over and both find themselves drawn into the lives of the stranger and each other.
The main characters in this book are lovely people, real people, there aren’t any mysterious agendas here. The wonderful counterpoint to the nastiness of the people she works with is the kindness of the people she meets in her suddenly disrupted life. She develops a sense of greater self-worth and learns that it’s never too late to be happy. There are parts of Eleanor’s life that I related to while reading this book which made it a little sadder for me, but it was still a joy to read.
A fair warning, there is a twist at the end. It’s unnecessary and tired and contributes very little to the overall story but if you can overlook that, you should find a lovely, inspiring story about the kindness and warmth of people and how friendship can save lives.