I saw Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine on several “Must Read” lists at the beginning of the year and immediately added it to my TBR. This is not a short book, it’s not a long book either, but it’s an incredibly short read.
“A philosophical question: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And if a woman who’s wholly alone occasionally talks to a pot plant, is she certifiable? I think that it is perfectly normal to talk to oneself occasionally. It’s not as though I’m expecting a reply. I’m fully aware that Polly is a houseplant.”
Eleanor Oliphant is a bit of a curmudgeon; she works in an office and adheres to a self imposed regimen that includes: working, talking to her mother on the phone every Wednesday, eating a pizza every Friday night with a bottle of wine and drinking two bottles of vodka throughout the weekend. One Thursday she wins concert tickets at work and feels obligated to attend. At the concert she develops a huge crush on the lead singer and begins a self improvement plan with a goal of meeting him and seducing him.
In the same week she and the new IT guy, Raymond, come across an elderly gentleman, Sammy, who has collapsed in the street; the coworkers call an ambulance and later check up on the old man. Sammy is incredibly grateful and introduces Raymond and Eleanor to his family. Raymond and Sammy’s family slowly chip away at Eleanor’s self-imposed regime while she dives deeper into her fantastical relationship with the singer.
There are brief moments where you get hints at why Eleanor is the way she is; she had a difficult past that shaped her life and her behaviors with other people. A lot of her problems can be traced to the toxic relationship she has with her mother which comes to a head before the book ends.
It is well written and the whole of Eleanor’s story is parceled out at exactly the right pace. It’s a sad book but with happy moments. You may also experience second hand embarrassment from some of Eleanor’s comments and behaviors with new experiences (although, Eleanor is never embarrassed).