Sunday, 14 May 2017

Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is completely brilliant! This is far and away the best book I've read this year. I had assumed from the title that the story was going to be something along the lines of Bridget Jones, but the cover with the burnt out matches (on the UK version) intrigued me and I thought perhaps there was more to it - maybe a psychological suspense?

It turned out I was completely wrong about that too! There is no 'big twist you'll never see coming'; there are no big twists at all, just a very clever story about an unusual and interesting character, whose past history is revealed a tiny bit at a time. (Pay particular attention about halfway through). I'm not quite sure what genre to classify this as. It did remind me of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, but I think that is more the style of writing; it's not really a psychological suspense.

The story is about Eleanor Oliphant who is nearly thirty years old. She's been in the same job since leaving university, has no ambition, and is happy to just keep doing the same things every day for the rest of her life. However, she has no friends - she has no social skills at all - and the kind of things the rest of us take for granted - smart phones,  social media, etc - completely flummox her. The other clue that things are not quite right in her life, is that she drinks two bottles of vodka every weekend, and has developed a crush on a musician who she is convinced will fall madly in love with her once he realises she exists. And every Wednesday she speaks with her horrible mother, who completely tears any self-confidence she has built up over the previous week to shreds. To me, she felt like a 1930s debutante who had suddenly been plonked into the 21st century and was completely clueless.

Of course things can't carry on like this and one simple act of kindness will turn Eleanor's ordered life upside down.

The story is told from Eleanor's point of view and, as well as being absolutely hilarious (this is one of those books that actually does have lots of those 'laugh out loud' moments), is by turns sweet, funny, sad, quirky, poignant, touching, incredibly lovely and completely wonderful. I loved it!

Thank you to Gail Honeyman, Harper Collins and Netgalley for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review.