Thursday, October 4, 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, by Gail Honeyman

Not.  The eponymous main character is approaching thirty.  Her job is with a design firm, but she isn’t on the artsy side, she’s the accounts clerk, a job which seems to fit her eccentric personality.  Friendless, she has a rigid routine at work (always buying the same lunch and eating it alone while reading the papers and finishing the crossword puzzles) and in her leisure time – each weekend she purchases pizza and a couple of large bottles of vodka to pretty much obliterate her weekend.  In the middle of the week, she always receives a fifteen minute phone call from her cruel and manipulative mother, who is seemingly locked away somewhere.  Although she was a good student in college, this low-level low-stress job and life help her to cope with the effects of her damaging early life. As the book progresses, the reader learns just how horrific it was.  The events of the novel slowly bring Eleanor out of her circumscribed world and into the light.  Although most of the overwhelming number of blurbs that peppered several pages of the book found it “wacky,” “incredibly funny,” and “warm and uplifting,”  I don’t think I can agree.  (And reading other UCPL reviews, which I dnd't want to do before writing mine, I am alone in this.)  Although it was a page-turner and you root for Eleanor to really become, if not fine, better, in the end I felt as manipulated as Eleanor was by "mummy."  It felt too much like it was making fun of her, and people like her who have been traumatized – perhaps I’ve been sensitized to this by recent political events….  336 pp.

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