I’m so happy I read (or listened to the brilliant audio book, read by Cathleen McCarron) this book first of 2018. I absolutely loved it, from the first sentence to the last.
”Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” is Gail Honeyman’s debut. The book is about 30-year old Eleanor (born in 1987, just like me! yay!) who works the same job as always, eats the same Margherita pizza on Friday’s and doesn’t really interact with anyone else other than her mother, who calls her every Wednesday. She’s an outsider on her job, but that’s how she wants it. She is, after all, perfectly fine.
Then she meets Johnnie Lomond and falls instantly in love. She is convinced he is the man of her dreams and intends to start at relationship with him. The only problem is that he isn’t aware that Eleanor exists. In a series of coincidences she befriends Raymond, who according to Eleanor is both quite disgusting and tactless, but after a while he starts to play a bigger part in her life.
Behind what might sound like a feelgood chicklit there is a darkness that seeps through the lines. Chapter by chapter we get to know more about Eleanor and her background, about her mother, about her scars – both visible and invisible ones. We understand more about why she is the way she is. Honeyman gives the reader exactly enough to start wondering, but not too much or too little. The rest of the story is still compelling enough to want to read further. The book intertwines humor and cynicism perfectly and even if I didn’t always agree with Eleanor, her depictions of the people around her and society are often right on point. The scene where she observes people at a dance floor is hilarious and spot on.
Eleanor is unlike any other character I’ve met and I’d like to call her something of a modern heroine. Some readers have contemplated if she’s somewhere on the Autism spectrum – something that I can’t and won’t speculate around. For me Eleanor might very well be the way she is because of circumstances beyond her control, regardless of if it’s something inside of her of it’s due to her past. I fell for her instantly and continued to fall for her throughout the book. I felt with her and even saw myself in her in some aspects, even if I often shook my head at her musings. I wanted to both shout at her, shake her and give her a hug.
The book is mainly about loneliness and the meaning of company. Honeyman describes mental illness in a considerate way and has created some unforgettable characters. I’m seldom sad that a book is over just because it’s over, but I could gladly have stayed with Eleanor for a lot longer.
First five stars of the year!