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?
“I have always taken great pride in managing my life alone. I’m a sole survivor – I’m Eleanor Oliphant. I don’t need anyone else. There’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I’m a self-contained entity. That’s what I’ve always told myself, at any rate.”
It’s taken me a good while to compose my review for this book because it was just so damn good! It’s one of those books that I know I will struggle to do justice in one of my reviews. To say I loved it is just not enough – ‘love’ is not a strong enough word for how I feel about Eleanor Oliphant! From the first few lines of Eleanor’s narrative I was held in a vice like grip, nothing could tear me away from this book.
Eleanor is a quirky, unique, slightly naive, sometimes hard to love but endearing character. She has to be up there among my most favourite fictional characters ever. Something horrific happened to her in her childhood, we don’t get to know the full details until the end of the book, but we do get snippets and clues as to what the event is throughout the story. And it is heartbreaking and terrible. However it is a big part of the patchwork that makes Eleanor, Eleanor and without it she wouldn’t be the same.
I adored reading Eleanor’s voice and hearing her views of the world. Gail Honeyman’s writing is superb, it’s funny, original, it broke my heart on many occasion and I applaud her for making Eleanor come so vividly to life. A particular moment of laughter for me was the description of a former Top Gear presenter (who I have a deep seated hatred for!) who features on a charity shop mug Eleanor uses for vodka.
“…it has a photograph of a brutally ugly moon-faced man on one side. He has pubic hair on his head, and is wearing a brown leather blouson. Along the top, in strange yellow font, it says Top Gear.”
Also thumbs up to Gail Honeyman for using the word “accoutrements” my favourite word!
‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ is a book that looks at mental health, it shows us that just one simple act of friendship can completely turn someone’s life around. Reading the ‘Bad Days’ section of the book will break your heart. It made me want to reach into the pages and give Eleanor a great big hug. These pages contain a deep and important message about the illness that dogs so many of us every day. It can get better and it does get better.
I will return to this book, I very rarely re-read books, but this one has utterly captured my heart. By the end of the book Eleanor had become a dear friend and I was sad to say goodbye to her. Its one of my top reads of 2017 and I want to shout at everyone to pick this book up! You won’t regret it, if you only ever follow one of my recommendations – make it this one!
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – 5/5 STARS (I want to give it all the stars ever!)
Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress and is Honeyman’s debut novel. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.
If you love Eleanor Oliphant as much as me then you will fall for these too:
‘The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce
‘The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy’ by Rachel Joyce
‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ by Joanna Cannon
‘The Museum of You’ by Carys Bray
‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ is out on the 18th of May in hardback published by Harper Collins. With thanks to the team at Harper Insider for my copy.