Admittedly, I’ve had this book on my shelves for way too long. After hearing all the wonderful reviews, I finally sat down and gave it a read, and it was far from what I expected!
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. Her days roll into one as she goes to work, eats the same lunch, returns home and drinks away her weekend. She’s odd, she’s an outsider, and she doesn’t quite fit in – and she doesn’t really want to either. Not until she realises quite what she’s missing…
I don’t think I’ve ever had such a change of heart from the beginning to the end of a book. I started Eleanor Oliphant not quite sure what I had got myself into. The premise seemed simple. I wasn’t sure I liked the writing. In my head, I was convinced it would be a 2 star read.
However, the more I read, the more intrigued I was by Eleanor. The more I read, the more I began to care about the characters as genuine people. And I don’t think I’ve felt so immersed in a book for a long while; I really would lose track of time.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
I think the turning point for me in this book was when the character of Eleanor became not just a surface-level being, but the author let us, as readers, into her thought pattern, her struggles and why she is the way she is. And I felt so bad for her. She’s a character perhaps we can never really understand or relate to on every level (and Eleanor says this herself in the book), but most of us have, as humans, on some level experienced the journey she has been through – realising the value in small acts of kindness and the power of human connection.
There are so many unique qualities to this book that will remain with me for a long while, eventually leading me to give it 5 stars. From Eleanor’s naive misunderstandings in the Bobby Brown make up section, which genuinely made me laugh, to the beautiful friendship between Eleanor and Raymond that I’m so glad wasn’t ruined by an unnecessary romance. Eleanor is a strong person, even when she believes she’s far from it. Her past haunts her but, with time, she learns to truly overcome it.
I read somewhere that Honeyman was inspired to write this book after speaking to a young lady who said she never spoke to a soul between the time she left work on Fridays until she returned on Monday mornings. It’s interesting how, as a society, we think of loneliness as a struggle of the elderly, and yet it can affect young people just as strongly. This book was such a heart-warming exploration of how a lonely soul, who believes she can take care of herself, finds happiness in friendship, opening herself up to a world she never knew existed.
And I think, deep down, it’s also an exploration of what we call home. Eleanor has lived in the same place since university and she sees it as home, but it isn’t until the end that that home becomes meaningful. As people, it’s often not the place that is valuable to us; it’s the memories that live there. We find a home in other people. And Eleanor, until the end, has never really felt that before.
Have you read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine?
Let me know what you thought in the comments!