Published: 18th May 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Eleanor Oliphant may be happy, but she’s lonely. She lives alone, she eats alone and despite working in an office environment, she is alone. Her routine is the same every week starting with a bus journey and ending with a Friday evening of pizza and two bottles of vodka. She has no friends. She only has one phone call a week which is with her Mum and it is obvious from the opening few chapters that there is quite a lot of history between the pair. Eleanor instantly drew me into her life, she wasn’t the most vibrant person but she was unique, an individual who went about her life and most of all, she was herself.
“It doesn’t bother me at all when people react to my face, to the ridged, white contours of scar tissue that slither across my right cheek, starting at my temple and running all the way down to my chin.”
When Eleanor stumbles across a new co-worker Raymond, the pair accidentally fall into step with one another. Soon enough, the duo are having drinks, visiting an elderly man in hospital, having lunch at the same café once week and even meeting his Mum. Eleanor has reason to believe that these life events are practice. Practice for when she meets the man of her dream aka. a musician who she has stumbled across and therefore, imagined her entire life with him within five minutes (we’ve all been there, babe). Eleanor’s lack of social skills reminded me a lot of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory; blunt, honest, extraordinarily clever and has a tendency to over share random slices of information.
“On nights like those, Mummy’s voice hisses inside my head and another voice, a smaller, timid one nestles in close to my ear, so close that I can feel her hot, panicky breath moving across the tiny hairs that transmit the sound, so close she barely needs to whisper.”
Towards the end of the narrative, the topic of mental health is introduced and this was a big game changer for the plot as well as Eleanor. Her life spirals downwards when she comes to the realisation that her crush isn’t as pleasant as social media made him out to be and with that, many bottles of vodka are consumed and before readers know it, days have passed and her friend Raymond comes to the rescue. I really enjoyed this aspect of the plot as it allowed everyone to view Eleanor differently – it showed how much mental health puts a mask over the real person.
Overall, this is a book that you just can’t spoil for people as once you uncover one aspect of the plot, everything else unravels and it’s difficult to know what you can / can’t discuss. So if you have read it, let me know and we can have a chat about it as it is a truly fantastic book. I sincerely hope that the film is just as good as the book.