Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She is thirty years old and leads a simple life. She has had the same job since she finished university, wears the same clothes to work each day, eats the same meal for lunch and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink each weekend. She knows her co-workers make fun of her but she it doesn’t bother her.She is completely fine and finds nothing lacking in her routine life. Until one day, things don’t exactly go to plan and an act of kindness towards a random stranger breaks down the walls she has carefully built around herself. Eleanor must now navigate the world we take for granted as a colleague, Raymond opens doors to a life she never knew could exist.
As her life slowly starts to change, Eleanor must also find the courage to face areas of her life she has successfully avoided thus far.
How do I even begin to review this book without giving away too much? It’s beautiful and funny and sad and heartwarming. You know there is something wrong about Eleanor’s past and bit by bit, you start to learn about it. Eleanor’s character is extremely well-drawn out and you are able to empathise wholly with her. At the same time, you have to laugh at her quirky and somewhat unusual behaviour. Her behaviour starts to make sense as you find out more about her. Raymond is a wonderful character too and in spite of Eleanor’s judgemental views about him initially, you warm to him.
This book, in a nutshell, is about loneliness and the importance of social connectedness; it’s about kindness and acceptance. It’s about the relationships we form in this world as adults.
Eleanor’s voice is unique and Honeyman has done great justice to her given her background. The overly formal language, the judgemental attitude, the submissive behaviour at times in stark contrast to the detached attitude are all superbly done. The narrative arc is brilliant as you are constantly anticipating knowing more about Eleanor and seeking explanations for her behaviour while at the same time worrying about her. I chuckled a fair bit, laughed out loud occasionally and cried a little during this book. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and an enjoyable read.
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Until next time,