Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
By: Gail Honeyman
Narrator: Cathleen McCarron
Published by: PRHA | Imprint: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction – Contemporary Women
Release Date: May 09, 2017
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
“Eleanor Oliphant is a truly original literary creation: funny, touching, and unpredictable.” –Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You
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.
Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart. – See more at: http://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/540586/eleanor-oliphant-is-completely-fine/
I found the beginning of this story a little slow, but there is so much within the pages of this book, or in my case the duration of the audio format version, that it is worth the reading. At times I was quite fearful of the big reveal; I wated to skip it. It is a terrible tragedy, but foreshadowing and a gentle landing prepared me as we got to it.
Sadly, there is no thing that hardens, or helps, Eleanor as she struggles through life from birth into adulthood. She is completely alone in the world: no family, no friends, co-workers who thinks she’s daft when they think of her at all. We’ve mostly all have, at one time or the other, not fit into some situation: a wedding where you only know the bride, a group where you are too, or not enough, this or that. Imagine a person who is always the one who doesn’t fit in, and you get Eleanor Oliphant. I was reminded of SYBIL, which also presented a portrait of a godawful childhood followed by a lonely, hard adulthood spent burying emotional and physical pain in a bottle of vodka. The NHS and Social Care system provide Eleanor with the basics and some material goods for which she is very, and humbly, grateful. I think. The character is one of caustic wit and I’m not sure if perhaps that gratitude isn’t a little passive aggressive.
Oh. The. Pain.
And, then the beauty of doing something for someone. And, then in finding a friend. Friendship can save people.
Honeyman draws characters beautifully, consistently, with laser-guided precision. Her characters’ progress through feelings at a normal rate: they aren’t enemies one minute and lovers in the next moment. Raymond is sweetness itself. He is completely genuine, a compassionate, geeky misfit who is everybody’s friend, everyone loves him. He is a life preserver. Sammy, the man they help, may be magic – to my mind anyway.
The narrator does a stellar job voicing Eleanor’s brittle, funny, sad, and smart personality as well as giving the other characters their own voices through Eleanor’s first person account.
I won’t kid you; there are some truly gruesome, emotionally shattering scenes. If you can handle that and like novels where the power of friendship denies the strength of evil, then this story is a must read.
By the way, The PRHA website reports that this is being made into a movie by Reese Witherspoon.
AUTHOR on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/gailhoneyman?lang=en