I was immediately impressed by the character focus in Eleanor Oliphant. I really enjoy subdued plotlines with more character development and the voice of Eleanor was interesting to engage with. Initially, I was humoured by the sense of inexperience and neutrality in Eleanor’s life, the repetitiveness of her routine and attitudes. When her character starts to unsettle her normality and branch out and explore, the breakdown of her ideology is fascinating.
Eleanor’s false sense of privilege was captivating to me. People with prejudices and attitudes to multitudes of different societal habits and choices are prevalent in every walk of life, but reading it through her words heightened my curiosity of her character. I found myself creating an opinion of this fictional woman long before I had gotten to know her, a mix of humour and disbelief in some of her responses fuelling my need to finish the book. I wanted to know what had steered her attitudes this way, her mental and physical experiences, the way she lived and worked, in order to build a more complex opinion of her.
The dialogue was masterful and appreciative, conversations frequently bordering a misunderstanding of society and the average person or group of people, friends or family, built entirely on Eleanor’s lack of experience, her different way of life. Her voice is manipulated in such a way that I often found myself agreeing with some of her opinions even though I knew I wouldn’t normally think so. Gail Honeyman captured me with Eleanor’s voice, her slowly revealing past and new curiosity and longing to be part of something greater than what she already knew.
It’s easy to see why this book won the Costa First Book Award and I’m really glad I was persuaded to pick it up. And I think I picked it up at the perfect time to truly appreciate all that it is. If you love a character-building book, a novel that explores personality and society in a unique and expressive way, then this book is perfect. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman deserves all the praise it has received thus far.
One of my favourite bits of reading this book and it is an entirely silly, amusing little quirk I had while reading it BUT I want to say so anyway – while reading Raymond, I was entirely reminded of Roy from IT Crowd, one of my favourite British comedy shows. Yes. It’s silly but I love Raymond’s character, it was effective, amusing, and brought so much light to the book, and I could help but think of Roy at the same time!