Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine - Gail Honeyman
This is one of those books which is pretty hard to categorize. It turned out to be not quite what I was expecting - but in a good way. I read a description which called it a laugh out loud comedy and this very nearly put me off! Yes it has some hilarious moments but mainly it is deeply emotional, with some quite dark moments and I was unable to completely put aside the fact that Eleanor is the way she is, as a survivor of something quite dreadful which is a very dark layer to the book.
Eleanor is a wonderful quirky character, she never quite fits in, she won't conform, she sees the world differently to most people and behaves in unusual ways, reacting to everyday occurrences with bewilderment and inappropriate attitudes, she is lonely and isolated and in some ways is like an elderly woman in others like a newborn, very innocent and childlike. Her social graces aren't just lacking they are practically non existent.
Anyone who has ever worked in a large office based organisation will recognize Eleanor, she is the hard working, slightly weird spinster whose eccentric manner of dress and speech and mannerisms makes us roll our eyes, but its all right because she just gets on with her job and we don't HAVE to include her in our conversations, we don't have to sit with her in the canteen and we certainly don't have to get to know her!
Eleanor's life centres around her unfulfilling job, with colleagues she just can't seem to figure out, who don't include her and often mock and even bully her. Then she goes home to her non existent social life, to spend time in her shabby single flat furnished with cast offs, pour a glass (or three) of vodka and waits for the weekend to disappear before returning to her desk to do it all over again. I bet there are far too many of us who can relate to ALL of this!
But we mustn't forget her weekly phone call to Mother, nasty Mother, sly Mother, loathsome Mother, but she is Eleanors only relative and above all else she is a dutiful daughter.
But Eleanors life is about to change and it's all because of a man! She is ready to fall in love, when she comes across her perfect man and gradually begins to blossom.
Yes, this is romantic fiction but it is also one of the most profound books I've ever read too. I defy anyone to read this and not warm to Eleanor after an initial bafflement and frustration at her idiosyncrasies. I laughed, groaned, smiled and sobbed in equal measure as Eleanor tore my heart to pieces and made me feel guilty for not being more tolerant to people who don't follow my rule book.
There aren't enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe how utterly captivating and delightful I found this book to be. So just read it - I'm sure it won't disappoint.
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