Ahoy there me mateys! This be the seventh book in me Ports for Plunder – 19 Books in 2019 list. Both this book and a man called ove were two books highly recommended by the crew. I adored Ove as he was me kindred spirit. So I was excited to finally meet Eleanor as well.
I have to admit that I was more of fan of Eleanor pre-transformation. I mean I didn’t enjoy her alcoholism, self-disgust, or her mental illness (so sad!) but I loved her quirky, somehow endearing viewpoint of the world. She was very aware of her likes and dislikes and the commentary on people and places around her was just excellent. Much of her introvertism aligned with me own. Societal niceties (other than being polite) can be overrated.
Her evolving friendship with her co-worker, Raymond, was just delightful. Raymond was just so silly and sweet and lovely. If only everyone had a friend like him. Watching Eleanor become more open to people and the world around her was divine. I enjoyed watching her go from “survival mode” to finding joy and acceptance in her own being. I enjoyed how Raymond’s friendship helped this occur in a natural, organic way.
Though eventually, Eleanor ends up in therapy. Which is good. She certainly needed professional help and I am glad there is no stigma attached to this. But the transformation that occurs seems to end up making Eleanor more like everyone else. It seemed to suggest that in order to be happy, ye have to blend in better with the “normal” people. This involved things like wearing makeup, buying better expensive clothes, and getting haircuts. I am not saying those things are bad in-and-of themselves. But some of this gave me moments of unease while listening.
But for the majority of the book, I was content to follow and watch Eleanor. Mostly because of her and Raymond’s interactions. I thought this was a powerful book about how deep loneliness can be and its effects on the human condition. The only part I actively hated was the final twist at the end. I thought it cheapened Eleanor’s growth and empowerment of dealing with her mother. It just seemed so gimmicky. But I loved Eleanor’s odd-duck ways and was very glad to have finally read the book that everyone has been raving about. Arrrr!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
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