If you’ve been checking out my WWW-posts, you might’ve noticed that I had a hard time finding the right mood for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Eleanor kept getting on my nerves and, according to more than one person, this shouldn’t be the case!
So I ended up putting it aside for a while, sometimes picking it up to try and see if something had changed. Then came the day it did!
Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living–and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
The thing I noticed immediately is the unique way of writing. Being a first person POV, the author had to be in Eleanor’s skin all the time, no room for mistakes. Although I couldn’t connect with Eleanor at first, I definitely admired Honeyman’s ability to crawl into a character that appeared to be… completely out of the norm? Trying to find the right words here… Eleanor’s characteristics simply ooze out of the way it’s written and that’s how it’s supposed to be, especially with that kind of POV!
For me, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine felt like a very slow-paced story. Even though things are happening all the time, I still noticed that the story itself was progressing slowly. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any progress! On the contrary.
This novel is so character-driven and when it comes to that there definitely is progress. Seeing how Eleanor slowly comes out of her extremely well-bordered comfort zone was so endearing, encouraging and beautiful to see.
That’s the thing: it’s best just to take care of yourself. You can’t protect other people, however hard you try. You try, and you fail, and your world collapses around you, burns down to ashes.
The relationship between Eleanor and Mummy. Now there’s something that got my skin crawling. I have my own history with mental abuse – I’m not going to talk about it here, but if you’ve gone through the same and want to talk: come and find me – so the way Honeyman integrated their relationship in the story gave me the shivers.
It felt so real, so sincere in the worst way possible that I couldn’t help but pity Eleanor. Hate her Mummy for trying to tear her down all the time. Hate, hate, hate.
But that’s what a good novel is supposed to do, no? Make you feel. This book did exactly that for me, although it took me some time to get into it.
We all have bad days, so does Eleanor. When hers occur, you’re sucked right into it. Especially for me, it was hard to read since lots of it sounded familiar. Not to me personally, but it reminded me of a specific person of my past. This, of course, made sure that I connected with Eleanor on a much deeper level than maybe someone else would. This book touched me in ways I honestly did not expect after struggling to read at first.
Might be a minor spoiler, so I’m putting this in white: That moment when she unknowingly goes to a death metal gig! I was at work when reading that and I seriously had to put my hand over my mouth and nose so I wouldn’t laugh out loud or snort. Hilarious! I listen to metal sometimes and my boyfriend’s a hardcore death metal fan so.. yeah.. Makes it twice as funny really..
Everything took so long. Before, I’d simply bathed, run a comb through my hair and pulled on my trousers. Being feminine apparently meant taking an eternity to do anything, and involved quite a bit of advanced planning.
It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to consider when you want to pick up this book: You really do need to be in the right head-space. If not, Eleanor will get on your nerves. You’ll be mentally yelling at her, cussing and getting frustrated all the time. But if you are in the right head-space, you simply admire her for trying to grow, you start thinking she’s so endearing and strong without even knowing it herself.
So it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something you should take into account.
The barman was well over six feet tall and had created strange, enormous holes in his earlobes by inserting little black plastic circles in order to push back the skin. For some reason, I was reminded of my shower curtain.
Since I did struggle a bit at first and you really do need to be in the right head-space, I’m giving this book four and a half cupcakes!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
How did you feel about her bad days?