Review in 10 words: A blunt story without the need of a clean ending. 5/5
How to consume: Read this book with a crisp cider. I mean, I HAVE to recommend a Magners and It needs to be with ice, of course. Eleanor would prefer you use a coaster. Crocheted blanket optional.
Beats: The Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack. Classical with romantic intentions, just how Eleanor should be experienced.
This story follows Eleanor Oliphant- 30 year old woman who has mastered the art of survival- but just doesn’t seem to be able to connect to the world around her.
She works in a simple accounts role and one of her life objectives is making it through each weekend with two bottles of vodka. Through the book we see Eleanor’s apparent contentedness slowly disintegrate as she explores her past, the catalyst for which is the kindness of an unexpected friend.
I had had my eye on reading this novel for a while, and I am so glad I did. I have been deep into a fantasy dive and this was a breath of fresh air.
From the outset Eleanor presents as an intriguing character. The first few chapters subtly install you in her world and the complexities that are within it. What I initially identified as a suprising representation of social awkwardness soon became a convincing and endearing heroine. The story is set in one of my favourite places; Glasgow. The nuanced references to life in Scotland (even just trips to Tesco) were nostalgic of travels there.
Eleanor is everything we wish we were brave enough to be and to say. This book takes the idea of trauma and gives it a new face. The rawness of Eleanor’s undoing and her painful growth was only possible through the kindness of those around her. Ironically, these are same people she identifies as nuisances at best. Her friendship with Raymond was refreshing and I loved seeing a new adult friendships form. In so many stories these long established friendships are presented and I appreciated this booked touched on the awkwardness of making friends well past your teen years.
Superficially, it weaved a story of a woman, dealing with trauma and pursuing a crush. Ultimately it is a deep dive into what it is to choose to grow and to become what you want – and not want everyone needs. I think as a woman in her twenty’s I am not alone in experiencing the fear of thinking it is too late to change something about yourself, and Eleanor is the unlikely heroine that makes that voice a little quieter.
What this book taught me:
I think I connected so strongly with this book and the concept that humans find safety in sameness. Having recently moved to a new country I found myself comforted by the monotony of Eleanor’s life and recognised the protectiveness of it. But we don’t grow in the same, we grow in the change.
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