eleanor oliphant is completely fine
As you may have gathered from the title, Eleanor Oliphant is not at all fine. Far from it. She's a socially inept recluse. Her life consists of a nine-to-five job, an exorbitant amount of vodka, and very little else.
I first saw Gail Honeyman's debut novel in the hands of Lucy Williams and Reese Witherspoon. It was also reviewed over on Vogue.com.au and continues to be named on must-read lists. I eventually decided to pick it up once I could no longer ignore the hype. But as I do often, I only vaguely read the blurb, so was pleasantly surprised with the unique narrative and characterisation when I finally got into it.
Eleanor says things that most of us have been conditioned to keep to ourselves. Brutally and honestly, she articulates norms and values that don't make sense to her (see excerpt below for a glimpse). She lives lonely existence and her routine will make you sad. But the story depicts Eleanor's shift. She develops relationships, expands her horizons, and overcomes a lot along the way.
I'd encourage most people to read this story for the entertaining quirkiness of the protagonist, but also for some perspective. I think the author's intention is to highlight loneliness. For me, to be lonely is to lack established connections, relationships, and love. Overall, this book reminded me that human interaction is the cornerstone of life. It's simply what we live for, and makes it all worth it.
This is one to read before it's transformed for the screen, too. Witherspoon's new media company Hello Sunshine has taken it under its wing. I'm a big fan of Reese and her team's vision to put more women at the fore. Her previous company was behind Gone Girl, Wild, and Big Little Lies screen adaptions, so I'm eagerly awaiting to see how this one will take shape.