A really good read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
You can be pretty sure with a title like that, that everything in Eleanor Oliphant's world isn't, in fact, completely fine. And you'd be completely right.
Initially everything in the life of the self-contained-to-the-point-of-invisible titular heroine certainly seems routine in the extreme. Very quickly though, there are pointers that all is not well in Eleanor's well ordered existence. And it doesn't take much longer for the reader to see through the self-sufficient veneer she has created to protect herself (from what we only slowly discover as the novel unfolds) and to begin to warm to her oddness and sympathise with the lonely emptiness of her daily existence.
It takes an unexpected incident, and an even more unexpected offer of friendship for the cracks to appear in Eleanor's carefully constructed lifestyle. Can she trust the possibility of happiness? Can she allow herself to let go of her past? Can she reconnect to the emotions she has held in check for so long?
If all this makes Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine sound hard going or gloomy, it's the triumph of Gail Honeyman's writing skill that it couldn't be further from either. In Eleanor she has created an unusual, unforgettable heroine who we come to care about deeply. And in telling her story, she makes us laugh, cry, squirm with recognition, ache at the loneliness that can exist in the midst of the busyness of everyday existence and rejoice in the life-changing potential of kindness.
Remarkably, this is Gail's first novel, which she wrote after turning 40. She says about it: "In telling Eleanor's story I wanted to focus on the importance of kindness, on how tiny acts can be completely transformative, for the right recipient, at the right time."
I defy you not to be at least a little transformed by reading this brilliant, touching, though-provoking, wonderfully original novel.
P.S. The very fabulous mug in my shot was made by the very fabulously talented Sharon, one of the Be Inspired Heydayers. Read her story here