You may have heard the buzz about Eleanor. A debut novel by Glaswegian author Gail Honeyman, it's most definitely a novel with heart. I really don't want to give away the plot of this story. So what CAN I tell you? It's warm and comforting. It's not a romance but it's filled with love and simple, human compassion. It's an easy, accessible read. It can, however, be very confronting from time to time and I do want to give a trigger warning to anyone who might have had dark creatures in their childhood.
To quote Shrek and other such great philosophers, Eleanor is an onion. She has many layers that peel away as the novel progresses. One of the most clever aspects of the novel is the way Honeyman slowly uncovers Eleanor's history and true personality. We grow to understand her just as she grows to understand herself.
I absolutely loved it. I'm a sucker for a story about anyone who's quirky, anyone who doesn't quite fit in. You could easily interpret that as an insight into my own personality if you wanted to and that's OK by me. When Eleanor is at a party, wondering just what the whole point of the exercise is, I'm standing right there beside her wondering the same thing. Wondering whether the cake will be served soon and how quickly I can surreptitiously shuffle out the door...
Anyway, enough about me. This is about Eleanor.
Pretty much everyone's first instinct is to judge people by their appearances, whether we like to admit to it or not. It's the way we're wired, a cognitive short-cut that helps us to work out how to make our way in the world and how to relate to the people we see. But those of us who no longer want to live like neanderthals try our damndest to pull ourselves up and have a good, firm word with ourselves when we do that. So if you have ever found yourself silently judging the man on the bus who isn't wearing socks, the dark skinned man wearing a hood or the woman wearing her pajamas under a trench coat, you need a little bit of Eleanor. This book will act as a perfect reminder that what you see isn't always what it seems to be. And we all need a bit of that from time to time.
So, in summary, Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. In fact, she's more than fine. She's amazing.
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Have you got any other suggestions for Eleanor lovers? Please comment!