Gail Honeyman | May 2017
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Oh, how I enjoyed Eleanor! She is a young, quirky, woman, living alone in Glasgow. She works for smallish graphic design company and presents as having a bit of a typical life except for her severe social anxieties, overall awkwardness, and very high standards for, well, everything. 🤦🏾♀️ These days, that seems like the popular thing to go on about: the awkward lives of millennials..so I figured why not give Eleanor’s story a try? I must say, between Queenie, Eleanor and Autumn from Speaking of Summer – I liked Eleanor best.
To be fair, I think its because, unlike the authors from the other stories, Honeyman allows us to get to know Eleanor as a person, before we judge her on her trauma or bad choices. She also includes a bit of comedic relief or levity. Eleanor doesn’t take herself so seriously that you cant laugh at some of her blunders. The turning point of the story is when Eleanor is faced with coming to terms over her obsession with a local rock star. I think thats when Eleanor herself also begins to think, something isn’t quite right.
Like Queenie and Autumn, Eleanor had a troubled childhood and now, suffers an extremely dysfunctional relationship with her mother. One day during a chance meeting, Eleanor and a co-worker witness an accident and help a gentleman that gets hurt. This sparks a friendship of sorts and gives Eleanor access to a much needed companion. The accident somehow triggers Eleanor into remembering long forgotten details about her childhood. Eleanor explains her mother is in jail for the crimes she committed, but calls her collect, weekly, to hear about what is happening in Eleanors life. The mother proves to be very controlling and apart of the journey is Eleanor learning the truth about who her mother is and what has really happened to her family.
Pros: I found Eleanor to be likable, endearing and relatable. There is a small cast of supporting characters that are also enjoyable, considerate and help their friend in a healthy way. The thriller is well written, quick read with a little bit of a who dun it vibe.
I couldn’t help comparing this book to Speaking of Summer and Queenie. All 3 ladies attempt to get much needed therapy for past traumas. It’s unfortunate the only one in the bunch that manages to do so without incident, and with the full support of her peers, is the single white woman. 🤦🏾♀️ (Alexa, find me a book with a perfectly well adjusted, lead black female character, please?)
Overall, really great book and I recommend it to folks after they’ve supported Queenie and Autumn. 😜 #GoodBook 7 of 42.