Eleanor Oliphant is a heroine. Not a heroine in the winsome looks and killer wardrobe stakes sense. Nor in the leader of the girlie gang sense. You just want to hug her. Odd really, because Eleanor Oliphant is a deeply unappealing person. Look round your office, there is probably an Eleanor, they don’t join in with the merry banter of the office, put spare change into the collection for leaving gifts, wear the same deeply unfashionable clothes every day and is just generally peculiar. You haven’t laughed about her back, because you are a nice person, but you know of lots that have.
Eleanor is completely fine with this, as the title implies. She needs nobody. The fact that she drinks herself to oblivion every weekend, to escape the fact that she will neither see nor talk to another living soul from Friday evening to Monday morning, is neither here nor there. She functions, everything is fine.
Then one Friday one random act of kindness changes everything. Suddenly there are people and cats. Eleanor gets a makeover. Not just new clothes and make up but a whole rewiring of her self esteem. Obviously its not that simple. Gail Honeyman tells the tale of Eleanor Elephant with great skill and sympathy. The twists and turns of Eleanor’s past and present are revealed to us in deft strokes.
I loved the language and images that Gail Honeyman deploys. When a bunch of flowers arrives the accompanying card is described as being like a hamsters birthday card, that is how I will think of those teeny tiny greetings from now on. Best of all is the name Eleanor Oliphant. Ellie, sounds like Nellie and reminds of elephants which in turn sounds like Oliphant (and indeed my spell check insists that is what I should be typing). Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
Eleanor Oliphant was one of Cultural Wednesday’s Best Books 2017, click on the blue words to see what the others were.
DISCLIAMER I was sent a review copy by Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE BY GAIL HONEYMAN
Published by Harper Collins
Paperback £8.99, Kindle £7.99