August 18

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

So  Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, and I have to tell you Readheads, I too am feeling pretty damn fine after reading this gem by Gail Honeyman.

Admittedly, this book started off a little shaky and I thought it a bit odd, but the story found its mettle after a few chapters and I then zoomed through it.  As the last chapter approached, I both hesitated because I was a sad about closing it and saying goodbye to dear Eleanor, but I was also desperate to see how it all ended. Now that it has,  I rather miss her – what a treat she is.

So, let me tell you about Eleanor.

Oh sister, she is strange – the capital S variety.  In her mind however she is content and she leads a very simple life which involves wearing the same clothes to work every day. She eats the same meals over and over and each weekend, dear, dear  Eleanor slowly and methodically drinks two jumbo bottles of vodka.  Her timetable and routines are studies in precision and with all the above-mentioned factors combined,  you quickly realise something absolutely terrible must have happened to her.

By the last chapter you learn it is the worst.

Eleanor has learned to survive, but not how to live and your heart twinges for her as she stoically carries on each day.   But then, one evening, events outside her control lead her on a journey where she experiences something entirely alien to her – kindness.  Over time, it proves to be her undoing, it tugs on her most buried memories and eventually sees an avalanche of horrible truths emerge.

The author has woven such lovely folk into the story – everyday people who are the perfect antidote to the one horrendous person Eleanor is trying to escape.

Ultimately what makes this book good is Eleanor herself.  She is funny but doesn’t mean to be and she is unquestionably weird (oh my) but for her the world is something to be controlled and absolutely without emotion.  At times she is almost child-like in her naivety.  Human niceties are  foreign to her and when she finally does start lowering her protective barriers to people, her experience is joyful to read.

So while gut-wrenchingly sad in part, much of the story is beautiful (and yes, amusing too) and I am so happy I carried on with this book.  It is not War and Peace but after living in a dreadful state of war with her demons, I was so thrilled that Eleanor Oliphant did indeed find her peace – so perhaps in a way, it actually is.

But that is just my two cents worth.