When you pick up a book, there are a dozen things that you consider before you actually decide to read it. And because of these considerations, you definitely have a certain expectation of the book. If you pick up a romance, you expect sappiness or mush. A thriller means at least a few nail-biting pages. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a book that smashed a few of my expectations. It was such a delightful read and nothing at all what I expected it to be.
There were times when I was wondering where are we going with this. There were times when I loved Eleanor to bits, she would have been a great person to know IRL. There were times when I really did laugh out loud. Eleanor is a simple person, she really is. She wants order and stability in her life. This has been achieved with orderliness and routine. She has vodka and pizza on weekends, a talk with her mummy every Wednesday, everything has its place and time. She has been at the same job for close to a decade, and yet she has no interest in the office gossip or its politics. She is completely fine in her own world and in her own scarred skin.
Eleanor’s scars are not just skin deep as we come to know through the course of the book. It is through an accident of fate that Eleanor comes to know of Raymond, the tech support from work. And then together they help Sammy, an old man who faints in the middle of the road. Eleanor, who has heretofore not encountered a situation demanding she show empathy, tries her best to be helpful. And with the help of Raymond, she makes her way through the hoops that are society’s rules. Her horizons expand and she finds herself open to friendships, attending parties, and even enjoying shopping. Eventually realising that she needs to heal. It is ironic that at the beginning where she decides to “improve herself from the outside and work her way in”, and she finally ends up healing herself from the inside out. Raymond is that one person who has tagged along with her. Eleanor can’t seem to shake him off and despite her initial prejudices she grows to like his company. As time progresses, as Raymond eloquently puts it, they are pals! And Raymond is a true friend in the support he offers Eleanor as she comes out of her shell.
Eleanor could be any one of us. She is someone we know, and she is a part of the person who stares back at us from the mirror. The manner in which Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was written, I cannot relegate her to a mere character from a book. She shall forever be a person, oddly similar to everyone I know, including myself. The writing of this book is realistic in that manner. Not only Eleanor but Raymond, Sammy, Eleanor’s co-workers… all of them were someone we would really know in real life.
The writing of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is delicious. It begins with holding the reader to certain expectations, with proper sentences and grammar. The reader can actually feel like they are being judged by Eleanor. But as Eleanor loses her preconceived notions and opens up, so does the book. There were plenty of tidbits that were gems. I could probably just note them down in a rule book. Mummy though irritating at the best of times, some of her advice was sound enough for the whole of society.
Clean nails, like clean shoes, are fundamental to self-respect.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine could be anything really, a romance or an emotional drama. I wouldn’t qualify it as a romance since Raymond and Eleanor are friends. If it develops from there to romance, good for them! But it shall remain a book that depicts friendship rather beautifully.
I really enjoyed reading this book and think you should pick it up as well!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars