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?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is one of my favourite books of this year. It’s a wonderful read: quirky, funny, sometimes a bit sad but hopeful – a complete delight.
Eleanor is almost 30, lives alone and has a very ordered life. She goes to work in an office, wears the same clothes, has the same lunchtime routine every day and buys two bottles of vodka every weekend. She doesn’t socialise with colleagues and doesn’t engage with anyone. She is very direct and says what she wants to say without irony. Once a week she talks with her mother who dispenses advice (and criticism). In fact the mother comes across as a horrendous character.
Eleanor narrates her story in a very matter-of-fact manner. There is no hint of self-pity. As the story progresses you sense that her upbringing wasn’t exactly normal but she got a university degree and a job.
Eleanor is completely fine in her self-contained life until she finds the love of her life and decides to embark on a makeover and engage (just slightly) with the modern world. This makes for some very funny misunderstandings and yet I felt sadness at her predicament.
Eleanor is totally alone although she doesn’t see herself as lonely. She considers herself completely fine but she really lacks the ability to engage with other people and she takes everything very literally. I found it quite sad they way her colleagues talked about her.
Things start to change for Eleanor when an old man collapses in the street. Raymond from work just happened to be walking alongside Eleanor, making conversation while Eleanor was desperately trying to avoid any interaction. Raymond ran over to the man and got a reluctant Eleanor to help too.
Raymond is a warm, friendly, thoughtful character. Somehow Eleanor finds herself becoming less self contained. It’s a very gradual process but she starts to blossom (not sure if that’s the right word!) It’s not all plain sailing and there are setbacks. It’s not a romance in the traditional sense. It’s more about an unlikely friendship and Eleanor’s journey.
Although Eleanor comes across as slightly odd, I found her very likeable. The story is well written and is funny and sad in equal measure. I found it easy to picture the characters and the scenarios. It’s a very enjoyable, entertaining story. I definitely recommend it.
My thanks to NetGalley who provided me with a digital review copy.