Eleanor’s fine. Or is she?
“A woman who knew her own mind and scorned the conventions of polite society. We were going to get along just fine.”
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction
Published: 9th May, 2017
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, dear. It seems this month I only picked depressing books.
While Eleanor Oliphant is far from fine if you ask me, she’s kind of oblivious to this fact. I expected this might lead to some light, humourous scenarios, but I ended up just feeling bad for her, and every time I had to chuckle, I just felt, I don’t know…embarrassed? I mean, it’s clear this woman has some issues, possibly has some degree of autism, so laughing about her misfortune often just felt weird, but at the same time, we can’t go through all kinds of experiences with a lemon-face, can we? She’s a woman, living on her own, holds a job, and is basically taking care of herself without any help. Basically.
Just as Eleanor observed the world and the people around her like they were some fascinating bug, or other intriguing subject, I observed Eleanor with the same fascination. On one hand, I found it hard to believe that a 30-year-old woman who works in an office is not familiar with emails and smartphones, doesn’t know what a high five is, or how to behave in public, but on the other hand these quirks of hers certainly made everything that went on just the more interesting. Some of her observations were actually quite spot on, and if you think about it, she’s actually quite right? Like, indeed, what’s so cool about those fast food places where you pay for your food, have to carry it and also clean up after yourself? I mean, it does sound like what you’d do at home, indeed! In spite of her lacking in the social skills department, she does have some insight that truly resonated with me.
“Although it’s good to try new things and to keep an open mind, it’s also extremely important to stay true to who you really are.”
I think there’s way too much emphasis on always looking for new experiences, doing whatever everyone else is doing, pushing boundaries and forcefully putting ourselves into uncomfortable or unknown situations. Why though?
Despite the heartbreaking moments and Eleanor’s inability to integrate herself, this book is actually quite an uplifting one after all. She finds not only friends who care about her, but also the courage to dare to ask for help, and accept support. One of the messages of the story, for me anyway, that it’s never too late. After some truly dark turns down child abuse lane, Eleanor still finds her strength to slowly start turning things around. I truly appreciated how the whole thing didn’t turn into to something sappy, because there were plenty of opportunities to go down the cheesy way. The friendship between Raymond and Eleanor was hands down heart warming, and I think we all need a Raymond in our lives.
I mostly listened to this book on Audible, and it was quite immersive. Mind you listening to Eleanor’s conversations with Mummy still makes me shiver. Yikes.
With a touch of darkness, a lot of heart and a sprinkle of fluff, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will appeal to fans of character driven contemporaries.
“No thank you,” I said. “I don’t want to accept a drink from you, because then I would be obliged to purchase one for you in return, and I’m afraid I’m simply not interested in spending two drinks’ worth of time with you.”
You go, Eleanor!
Oh, did I mention there’s no romance? *squee*
Also, language! Eleanor is so well spoken and eloquent! I was furiously taking notes, and am not ashamed of it.