In the current climate of encouraging us to talk about mental health this book has opened a window on how our minds control our lives even without us noticing.
A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive; but not how to live. Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.
Eleanor is an intriguing character and despite knowing little about her, I was captivated and desperate to know why she was so self-contained. Eleanor has her own way of coping with her isolation: this involves strict routine and, as already mentioned, a lot of vodka.
At the beginning of us joining her life she has an epiphany when she thinks she has fallen in love and found her soulmate. Without the life experience or friends to guide her through she becomes even more disconnected from reality.
And thence into a “slough of despond” when she completely plummets into dark depression.
The skill and craft with which the author takes us through Eleanor’s breakdown is remarkable and I felt as if I was drowning in her quagmire of misery and despair.
Dragging the reader back to solid ground is also done with dexterity and compassion, so that by the time I reluctantly left Eleanor at the end of the book I felt that I had been with her and had a far better understanding of a damaged psyche.
I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. In some ways, it is more than a story told through the pages of a book, it is an immersion into a damaged soul and a revelation to inspire the belief in the power of kindness and humanity.
How Gail Honeyman has done all this with just words is astonishing.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is published by Harper Collins on 4th May in hardback RRP £12.99