I hadn’t heard of Gail Honeyman’s book until now, and I seem to have missed out on it. Recently, “Eleanor Oliphant is perfectly fine”, her debut novel, which won in 2017 the English book award Costa in the category “First novel”, fell into my hands and I read it, mainly because we all seem to be “completely fine” this year and it seems to be “getting better”. Reading the annotation of the book, I recognized myself in the statement that made me start it, namely:
“Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything…”
I guess a lot of people feel that way sometimes. We all get into the rut of our lives and more and more often we forget that many pieces of the puzzle are missing, and they are important.
Eleanor had a difficult childhood, suffered many losses and struggled to cope with everything, but despite these obstacles she managed to graduate from university, has a home that she is trying to turn into a home, found a decent job in finance to pay her bills and thinks that’s enough. The only thing she doesn’t like about the life she leads are her weekly phone calls with her mother, who always manages to make her feel miserable and inadequate. And even though she lacks social skills, everything has been going well for years and she’s not complaining. She feels good in her loneliness and in the way she has worked everything out. She doesn’t even need friends to diversify with.
“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”
Until one day … something happenes that changes the course of her life – she finds a friend. A friend she didn’t even know she needed. Someone with whom to just share and experience things. Someone who cares about her and how she feels. And although at first she does not want to relax and accept it in her life, over time this changes and she realizes that this is not really a bad idea.
Well, of course she falls in love, or so she thinks (there must be love after all), until she realizes that she doesn’t seem to be in love as much as she wanted to reassure her mother and the constant questions about the topic (it’s not like yes I do not understand it: D).
In my opinion, the book carries several messages that are described quite well and are important for each of us, namely – something good can always happen, no matter how difficult it has been for us so far. Yes, everyone goes through different stages of their lives and there are always problems, but the good and the positive are always there. And also – no matter how comfortable you feel in the life you have built, do not stop learning and fight for more. The road is not easy and never will be, buuut worth it and in the end it’s sweet.
The book gives hope that even if everything is “stuck”, there will always be development. Even if you are alone, you will find someone who will understand you and be by your side if you need to.
“Sometimes you simply needed someone kind to sit with you while you dealt with things.”