Harper Collins 2017
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 timetables existence. Except, sometimes, everything…
Having heard such a lot about this book it has been on my TBR a while and I found myself enjoying it from the first page. My impression prior to reading was that Eleanor was an ‘oddball’ not quite fitting in, I was unsure why, but wondered if mental illness or learning difficulties might play a part. But I knew that this book had touched the hearts of many, all of whom spoke highly of Eleanor and her story and found her endearing.
I didn’t expect the book to make me laugh out loud though, but it did early on, for those who have read it the bikini wax bit really did make me chuckle! For those that haven’t, how is that for a sneaky teaser!! But really this is a story of recovery and full of wisdom. It’s true Eleanor doesn’t really fit, but in the most part she has her routine and as the title suggests, she is completely fine. But then something happens that makes Eleanor want for something more and her fine life feels suddenly much less fine.
This truly is a lovely read, one of those books that left me feeling I had gained something from the reading experience, mentioned before, but the word that comes to mind is wisdom – this is a wise book. Eleanor’s life is neither happy or enviable and her story gets one thinking about what it means to live a life, rather than to simply function. The small, but important things that make us human are highlighted in the story in a heart warming way as we follow Eleanor on her journey.
Written wholly in the first person as a reader I felt I truly got to know Eleanor and at times I wanted to fight for her, stand up for her when she couldn’t. Because this book isn’t all warm and fluffy, there is a reason for Eleanor’s difficulties, her isolation and her distance and this aspect of her story is desperately sad. That said her judgemental inner voice is brilliant, not cruel, just highly amusing and spot on when thinking about the ridiculous things that at times we all do.
This book is about Eleanor and her life now. I liked this, there was much in her past which could have been explored but this wasn’t that book. It’s about overcoming the difficulties and demonstrating they are surmountable with time and small steps. It is about being lonely and the joy the smallest of human contact can bring, the importance of having a friend.
Writing this I could be reviewing a self help book – I’m not! This is a work of fiction, engaging and enjoyable. Reminiscent for me of Fredrick Backman’s Britt Marie was here (reviewed here) and A Man Called Over (here) both terrific books. Both Backman and Honeyman have succeeded in creating warm but ‘tricky’ characters on a path of development and change, bought about by life circumstances.
A lovely recommended read.