Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is one of those novels that came into my life out of nowhere. I had seen in a few book stores, and for some reason had not even picked it up. Then one morning I was looking for a new audiobook to listen to, and it appeared on the front page. Without any real knowledge I decided to go for it. And let me tell you, it may be one of my favorite books of the year. I loved it so much that even before finishing it I bought the book itself, as I just had to own it. It is that good!
Eleanor Oliphant is an odd young lady. So properly English that at times it hurts you as a reader as she deals with social situations and interacts with people (some of the scenes are so funny - like when she is asked for her name a coffee shop to put on her cup, and she feels this is an amazing invasion of privacy). There were times that I very much thought of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory, if that gives you a point of reference. She works for a company in accounts, has few friends, and spends most of her weekends drinking vodka alone a home. She is not well liked by her peers, and has no friends.
At the start of the novel, Eleanor has attended a concert and falls instantly in love with the front man of one of the bands. In her head, she has created a world where they will be together forever. But I feel that the real story takes off when Eleanor meets Raymond, a new IT person in her company that helps her fix an issue with her computer. For a reason that Eleanor herself cannot understand, she agrees to go to lunch with him. They witness an older man fall down, and come to his rescue. It is here that Eleanor is forced to deal with people and the real world. She creates relationships and learns about friendship. In addition, she continues to "stalk" the musician, as he is known throughout most of the book, and works to create a meeting between the two so that they can fall in love and start their life together. We see Eleanor deal with all sorts of common situations - buying new cloths, to getting a haircut, and even attending a birthday party. As she learns about how others deal with these things, she also comes to understand her own shortcomings and grow as a person.
There is also a very dark side to this story. From the outset, you know that Eleanor has been through some trauma in her past. She receives calls from her mother who is in a facility - and reminds Eleanor of something that she does not wish to recall. I will tell you right know that "Mummy" is one of the evilest parental characters that I have ever read. I have such strong feelings about her. I don't want to give too much away here because Ms. Honeyman weaves the story so skillfully. But what a gut punch.
As I said, I started this book on audio. (I finished it by reading it, as I just could not wait.) The narrator, Cathleen McCarron is fantastic (underline, exclamation point and bold). Her voice for Eleanor will stick with me forever. And her voice for Mummy - oh my goodness. She was the driving force to me sitting in my car for longer periods than I should have just to finish parts of the book. With a breath, she had me on the edge of my seat. I highly highly highly recommend.
But really, it is Gail Honeyman and her amazing writing and the amazing character of Eleanor that I cannot forget. She has created a woman that I laughed at, cried for, and in the end just adored. I wanted to know about her in so many ways, felt bad for the life she had lived, and then cheered as she worked to triumph over it all. I have read a few books this year with women I will not forget, and Eleanor gladly joins that group. I am telling you - you will not want to stop reading about her and when the book comes to and end : you will be glad to call Eleanor Oliphant your friend.
Book Rating : 4 books