Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Published: May 2017
Summary: Eleanor is a peculiar woman steeped in routine, which consists of a balanced diet, practical clothing, going to her office job, noticing other people’s poor manners, and drinking copious amounts of vodka. This routine begins to be corrupted when she and her co-worker, Raymond from IT, find an old man unconscious on the sidewalk. Thus setting in motion a much needed journey for Eleanor that will challenge her sense of normalcy and get her to confront her tragic history.
Thoughts: I warmed up to this story as Eleanor warmed up to reality. It wasn’t love at first sight for me, but in time I grew to love Eleanor and her compelling story. The story is written in the distinctly quirky voice of Eleanor, who you originally think might be somewhere on the Autism spectrum. In this, Honeyman really shines at portraying Eleanor through and through in every corner of the pages. Eleanor has a particular way of seeing the world and doesn’t have a lot of room for people and situations that challenge that schema. Her rigid nature was originally difficult for me to enjoy reading about, but as she begins to come out of her shell and you get to learn more about her, I began to make room for her in my heart and got into the story. Eleanor is very fragile and it was heartbreaking to learn how her hard shell exterior came to be, but then was heartwarming to see how her shell could begin to crack through the help of the new people in her life. I became extremely attached to her and worried about her well-being at times as she looked to vodka to make her feel better and had slight stalker tendencies. She had extreme growth and transformation in this story, perhaps so much so that it may be unrealistic. Her relationship with Sam, the old man, and her IT co-worker Raymond was absolutely charming. This story takes place in Scotland, a place I have never been. There is quite a bit of vernacular that I needed to Google to better understand what she was describing, particularly surrounding food and clothing. I would say the setting doesn’t play a large role in this book, but for the words that were sometimes used that were specific to the Scottish point of view. This was another good book club pick this year, and was well-liked by all of us. We are 2 for 2 this year so far!