My latest read was one I had been meaning to pick up for a while. And it is a book that needs little introduction. Gail Honeyman’s debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a bestseller, and the recipient of the 2017 Costa First Novel Award – so needless to say, it was a book I was looking forward to reading.
From the very first page I was drawn into the world of Eleanor Oliphant, and in fact I actually read the entire book in one day! The thing that struck me early on was Eleanor’s voice, and as I discovered more about her I recognised similarities between her and myself. We are of similar age and occupation, and are both somewhat awkward socially. From early on she became a character I wanted to root for, and despite the fact her character seemed familiar to me, it made following her journey no less fascinating. Over the course of this novel, we see Eleanor negotiate modern life, dealing with the daily challenges that this brings from visits to the doctor to encounters with work colleagues. We see a person who is a creature of habit, content in sticking to a set routine. Eleanor eats the same lunch each day, buys the same bottles of Vodka to drink over the weekend. We see a person who lives a relatively solitary existence outside of work, who spends weekends alone and sticks to the sidelines in social gatherings. But as the story progresses, we discover more about Eleanor’s past, and the events that shaped the woman she has become…
I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a gripping and moving read. I loved learning more about Eleanor, and her story was told with sensitivity and was at times touching and in others a little humorous. In Eleanor we have a character that is relatable, someone in who we can see a little of ourselves. And there is a vulnerability to her character, as someone who finds it difficult to fit in with her peers, and sometimes says the wrong thing in social surroundings. But alongside this vulnerability there is great courage, as we learn of what Eleanor has been through, the memories which continue to haunt her. There are hints throughout about a significant event which left her with physical and emotional wounds, alongside fraught relationships with relatives that have contributed to her isolation. This story deals with some important issues concerning family and relationships, loneliness and the importance of kindness. And whilst there were passages of this book that were moving there were also moments that made me smile – Eleanor’s first foray into beauty treatments springs to mind! And as Eleanor’s story drew to an end I was sad to leave her behind.
I thoroughly enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and found it to be a wonderful book which had me hooked. It is not hard to see why this book has proved to be so popular, within its pages is a beautifully written story of a woman’s emotional journey – and Eleanor is a character that I won’t forget in a hurry.