The first thing you need to know about the novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is that it’s a complete lie. Eating the same food every day is not ‘fine’. Self-medicating with alcohol and painkillers every weekend is not ‘fine’. Receiving abusive calls from your incarcerated mother at a fixed time every week, regardless of what you do to avoid her, is not ‘fine’. Stalking a beautiful man that you saw at a concert just because the bottom button of his waistcoat was sophisticatedly unbuttoned is not ‘fine’.
But the fact that Eleanor Oliphant is so completely not fine is why I love this book so much.
We have all felt different or isolated at one point in our lives and Eleanor is living this nightmare constantly. She has no friends; no-one has been in her house but her for years and the reason she drinks three bottles of alcohol over the weekend is because she simply has nothing better to do.
She is lonely.
And whilst loneliness isn’t as destructive as a disease or a mental illness, it is still a plague on Eleanor’s health that forces her to live the humdrum life that she does.
Her life is a flatline filled with repetition and pesto pasta, which would have continued that way if not for the humanity shown by those around her. But all it took was one act of kindness and a bit of patience from a seemingly deadbeat IT man to turn Eleanor’s life around. Whilst her journey isn’t a complete upwards venture from there, the people around her are steady and are always there to pick up the pieces.
Gail Honeyman has managed to create a book full of drama that will intrigue you with a backstory worthy of a Sherlock Holmes mystery, make you cry with every step Eleanor takes towards happiness, and most importantly, re-affirm your faith in humanity.