Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman *****

Eleanor Oliphant is a creature of habit. Aged thirty she is still working as an Accounts Assistant at the firm that she joined straight after her degree. She has the same meal deal for lunch every day and passes the time doing the Daily Telegraph crossword. She wears the same white blouse every day (she has five identical ones) and the same black velcro shoes. Every weekend she buys two litre bottles of vodka and drinks them to pass the time till she goes to work again.

Eleanor exists. She doesn’t live. A figure of fun for all her work colleagues she tends to keep to herself. She isn’t unhappy, it is just the life that she has carved out for herself. She knows that she is different. And its not just the scar tissue that covers one side of her face that marks her out. From when she buys the vodka on a Friday night she doesn’t speak to anyone until she gets the bus to work on Monday morning.

Coaxed into an act of kindness by Raymond, the IT guy at work, Eleanor is suddenly thrust into a world of new people and new experiences. All of the carefully constructed walls that she has built around herself are under threat and she has to learn how to survive in this new world.

It is hard to believe that Eleanor Oliphant is the first book from Scottish author Gail Honeyman. Beautifully written, this book will tug at your heartstrings and force you to think about mental illness and how badly we judge people who suffer from it. It also has an element of a thriller about it as we discover why Eleanor isn’t fine.

Eleanor is very well read, impeccably spoken and with very sophisticated food tastes. Despite her quirks she is a wonderfully human character and you just want to be her friend.

“A philosophical question: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And if a woman who’s wholly alone occasionally talks to a pot plant, is she certifiable? I think that it is perfectly normal to talk to oneself occasionally. It’s not as though I’m expecting a reply. I’m fully aware that Polly is a houseplant.”

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It really is one of the best stories that I’ve read all year. Moving and suspenseful, all in one white polyester and black velcro clad package.

Supplied by Net Galley and Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

UK Publication date: May 18 2017. 299 pages.

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