*I received a free review copy of this novel via NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?
Oh Eleanor…you’re not fine at all. But that’s ok.
Having read this beautiful, bitter-sweet book, I’m not too sure I’m fine either – I feel I have been turned inside out and emotionally wrung out like a soft tea towel!
This is one of those books that stand alone and stand out. That you remember long, long after you put it down. That you recommend to friends and family. That you refer back to during book-related conversations.
It has everything: humour, sadness, anxiety and fear, anger (all the feels); endearing characters; fascinating, well-paced plot with slow-building reveals; and is so well-written that I swore I could hear Eleanor’s voice as clearly as she heard her Mummy’s.
Eleanor herself is a marvel. Strong, but fragile. Clear and direct with a naive lack of awareness of, and complete disregard for, social mores and popular culture. Honest but with a richly deceptive internal fantasy life (which reminded me at times of Ally McBeal’s visual musings). I have seen discussions about whether or not the character can be diagnosed with a ‘spectrum’ disorder (based on the presentation of symptomatic behaviours and thought processes versus the possibility for change and improvement). To me, it didn’t really matter. She was just who she was, and the reader got a direct insight into a unique and fascinating point of view.
I have no criticisms here. I want to pick the book straight back up and read it again! Even the ending is perfect…hopeful without over-sugaring. I recommend this one to book clubs and readers who enjoy good books. Eleanor Oliphant is completely wonderful.
But, by careful observation from the sidelines, I’d worked out that social success is often built on pretending just a little. Popular people sometimes have to laugh at things they don’t find very funny, do things they don’t particularly want to, with people whose company they don’t particularly enjoy. Not me. I had decided, years ago, that if the choice was between that or flying solo, then I’d fly solo. It was safer that way.
– Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine