Thursday, 22 February 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive - but not how to live.

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?

An astonishing story that powerfully depicts the loneliness of life, and the simple power of a little kindness.

When I am browsing the shelves in a book shop or library, I am always a little wary of books which claim to be "hilarious, made me laugh out loud." Conversely, "heartbreaking, I sobbed from start to finish." Not that either of these specific claims were made about this book but I'm sure you understand what I mean in general terms?

Now, I have read books making these sorts of claims in the past and, sometimes, I find that the book has barely made me raise a smile let alone have me reaching for a box of tissues. So, feel free to think I am a cynic but I am rarely impressed by these kinds of grandiose claims.

However, this wonderful book really was hilarious and heartbreaking and I did indeed laugh and cry. Why? Because this is a book full of humanity and compassion and I do not think I have ever rooted for a fictional character in the fifty or so years since I first picked up a book that my beautiful late-sister taught me to read before I had even started school.

This wonderfully evoked book tells the story of the scarred and socially inept Eleanor, who is trapped by her lonely existence with no prospect of that ever changing. Ms. Honeyman has created an outstanding cast of characters, all of whom are extremely well developed and easy to engage with. There is real skill evident in the writing and for a debut novel this is one of the best I have ever read.

I would challenge anyone not to be deeply moved by the chapter where Eleanor visits the hairdresser. I will say no more as I do not want to give anything away and ruin the experience of reading this marvellous book.

I think this book will stay with me for a long time and I do not doubt that I will probably read it again sometime. I could waffle on interminably concerning the virtues of this book as there is so much to like in it. I strongly encourage you to read it as I am sure you will love it every bit as much as I did and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

ISBN: 978 0008172145

Publisher: Harper Collins

About the Author:

Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full-time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust's Next Chapter Award 2014, was longlisted for BBC Radio 4's Opening Lines, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She lives in Glasgow.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

January Roundup

I have read some fabulous books this month and travelled to some interesting places on my literary travels. If you are not familiar with my world wide book travelling then please read my blog posting The Well Travelled Reader .

I haven't had an opportunity to review all these lovely books yet but they will be coming. In the meantime, please click through on the links below to read the reviews.

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson

Judas by Amoz Oz

Histories by Sam Guglani

The Mountain by Luca D'Andrea

So, where have my travels taken me this month? I have been to London twice, Scotland, Israel and Italy.  Histories by Sam Guglani was set in an unspecified location so I have not included that.

How about you? Have you travelled anywhere interesting this month?