I know it’s only May but I think I’ve probably already found my Book Of The Year in Gail Honeyman’s debut, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.
A bold claim? Maybe. One that could come back to haunt me? Possibly. However, I found this unique, funny and touching book spellbinding from start to finish – and given the buzz it’s already generated, I’m not alone.
I first read the blurb for it in January and immediately put it on my reading list, practically jumping for joy when I received an email stating it was available on NetGalley pre-publication.
My anticipation levels were so high that I was almost nervous to start reading – and I’ll admit the unexpectedly authentic voice took me by surprise at first but it turned out to be so, SO much better than I was hoping.
Before I gush some more, here’s the blurb that got me so excited:
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.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?
Just a few pages in and I was hooked. Eleanor’s observations on life are astute, funny and a little bit heartbreaking all at the same time. She’s a heroine like no other I’ve met before and I found that so exciting.
Witnessing her gradual transformation, like a bud blooming into a flower, was captivating. The fact that it resulted from just a small amount of kindness warmed my heart. I wanted her to thrive, was willing it, and the moment I realised she was heading for a fall, I wanted to leap into the pages and save her the pain.
I find it amazing that Gail was able to keep courageous Eleanor’s voice so strong and true throughout and I struggle to believe this masterful book, written with so much confidence, is her debut.
After I had finished it I found myself on a bus looking at the other passengers and wondering how many were just waiting for someone to really see them?
We never know what’s going on with other people from just the outside, there’s no way you can judge even when – probably especially when – someone says they are fine.
Maybe, in real life, happy endings are not as readily available but surely it’s worth taking a chance – especially with something so easy to do.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is not only a wonderful and compelling story, it also has power within its words, power that opened my heart and mind and changed the way I think.
I don’t think you can ask for much more than that.
My rating: All the stars.
Thank you very much to Harper Collins UK for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.