Eleanor Oliphant is the archetype underdog: the butt of office jokes, oblivious to fashion and good taste, living alone with a naïve crush on a local musician.
I was skeptical yet after reading just a couple of pages of Eleanor’s story – recounted in her chatty yet charmingly exacting manner – it dawned on me that maybe Eleanor and I have more in common than I first thought. The world through her eyes is a cruel, ridiculous and at times hilarious place but also uncannily familiar.
It’s a tale of personal discovery and the sadness, despair and growth that goes with it.
It is at times addictively voyeuristic – you’re a fly on the wall at her first bikini wax, her first manicure and watch in horror as she makes her debut on Twitter.
There’s nothing remotely fluffy about Gail Honeyman’s debut novel, though. It’s a beautifully told blush-making romance with a trace of misery memoir and a shock twist at the end.
She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes. Everything.
I raced through the book only to feel an enormous sense of gloom once I’d finished.
Not because it didn’t end how I wanted it to – I didn’t have any preconceived ideas in that respect – but because I missed Eleanor and her hugely original take on things.
She made me think, and cackle out loud (much to my husband’s irritation) and sob in desperation.
I defy you not to adore Gail Honeyman’s debut novel.
- Buy it here on Amazon (hardcover currently £6 – total bargain)
Other books we’ve loved – by Aurora Hutchinson
Little Wins by Paul Lindley
Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, has written a wonderfully observed must-read for anyone looking for a new way of living life, love and business. Harness your inner-toddler and nurture the qualities you once had to have fun, be creative, never give up and get noticed. Read on, take notes and learn to ‘grow down’. Buy it here
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
Ilsa has a secret, always wears green and doesn’t know a thing about music.
Frank, haunted by his past, loves to help people through his passion for music and decides to teach Ilsa everything he knows.
Rachel Joyce herself, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, will be taking us on a musical tour de force. Ilsa and Frank’s story is set in the 1980s in a small vinyl shop, and their world is starting to change. Frank, Ilsa and a gang of unlikely and loveable characters go about trying to save their home turf, but will they be able to save Frank? Buy it here
The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith
‘In The Things We Thought We Knew we meet 18-year-old Ravine who has, for ten years, suffered with debilitating chronic pain.
Now Ravine begins to write to her childhood friend Marianne, who disappeared from her life as her chronic pain began, and so the story unfolds.
Mahsuda embraces our yearning for how things used to be with soul wrenching reminders of our own childhoods. She also introduces us to a giant pet slug that goes by the name of Stanley, no less.
This is a beautifully written and evocative debut novel that stays with you long after you have turned the last page. Buy it here