Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine ~ by Gail Honeyman

So I go from a fairly heavy and angst-filled satire (St. Germain’s Horseman) to a medium-weight family saga (Pachinko)  to now,  a really light-hearted book.   Or is it? –  there seems to be a dark side there with Eleanor’s past.  How did she get this way because she’s very peculiar.  Reading this  due to a recommendation by a couple of people,  not a group read – who said it was a “fun” book.   Well …

Eleanor Oliphant is a thirty-year old young woman with an unusual background and with some (!)  social problems.  She lives in Glasgow,  England and works as a clerk at a graphic arts company.  With a mother who is apparently mad and locked up somewhere,  Eleanor was raised in a series of foster homes until she got out of school and found a job and an apartment.   Now,  several years later,  she still has a social worker who visits,  but she’s basically friendless and way out of tune with her cultural milieu.    She’s spends her time avoiding social situations,  drinking vodka and in weekly phone chats with her mother.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
2017/ 336 pages
read by Cathleen McCarron 11h 1m
rating:  7.75 / general fiction
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Eleanor goes to a rock concert, only because she won an office raffle,  where she is attracted to Johnnie Lomond,  one of the musicians,  and designs to meet him some way.

One day she meets her co-worker,  the lonely single IT guy,  Raymond Gibbons,  when they are leaving work at the same time and they see an old man fall down and stay down.   They join forces to help Sammy keeping him company and calling the paramedics who take him to the hospital.  Once in the hospital the pair of workers go to visit.  Sammy has grown children and they invite him to a Christmas party.

Thus begins Eleanor’s initiation into a kind of social life where she feels she’s required to undertake a make-over.  That’s tricky.   And trying to socialize with Raymond and the others is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny –  I don’t know if it’s believable or not- so far it’s fun.  There’s a very light romance involved but it’s interesting.

An overarching tension is how Eleanor got this way – what happened in her childhood?  What and where is her mother?  What has she been doing all these years and why – we get a bare outline until toward the end where the suspense builds and her past becomes more clear.

It’s a good story well told  –  not great lit but not fluff – enjoyable.   (Actually,  it kept me up until midnight last night.)

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