I’m enjoying one of the most fantastic things life has to offer, the ‘excellent book roll’. To date this summer has been glorious, as I’ve moved from The Nightingale to The Perfect Stranger, on to the Magpie Murders, from there to How to Stop Time and then to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Oh Eleanor! How I adored you! Why did it have to end?
Eleanor Oliphant is socially awkward, grammatically perfect, stylishly impaired, physically flawed, frugal to a fault and totally impossible. All in all about as far from ‘completely fine’, as one could ever imagine. One day she wins an office prize and goes with a colleague to see a band perform. Whilst there she falls absolutely in love with the lead singer, a man she neither knows nor has any connection to. In Eleanor’s world the two are destined to be together, nothing will stand in their way, if she can only improve herself sufficiently for him to notice her, so that she can then win him over with her personality and intellect.
Fortunately for Eleanor help and friendship arrive in the form of the somewhat bumbling, but utterly sweet, Raymond. Raymond mans the IT helpdesk at Eleanor’s work and through a variety of happenstance comings and goings the two begin to forge an unlikely friendship, gradually introducing Eleanor to the outside world.
Whilst largely humorous to read, there’s a very real darkness to the book and to Eleanor herself. Slowly but surely you begin to understand what made Eleanor, Eleanor. Her weekly calls with ‘Mummy’ are profoundly disturbing, but also leave you curious as to Eleanor’s history and personal flaws. Is Mummy truly as evil and malicious as she might seem?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine challenges your expectations as a reader every step of the way? The author, Gail Honeyman, cleverly takes all your assumptions and at the end of each chapter and neatly turns them on their head. She creates a character that you would go out of your way to avoid in real life and turns her into your dearest friend. Yes Eleanor may, by the end of the book, not be ‘completely fine’ but I’m totally certain that I adore her, that I am rooting for her and that, yes, she will make it.