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There are scars on my heart, just as thick, as disfiguring as those on my face. I know they're there. I hope some undamaged tissue remains, a patch through which love can come in and flow out. I hope.
Grief is the price we pay for love, so they say. The price is far too high.
Obscenity is the distinguishing hallmark of a sadly limited vocabulary.
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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel Hardcover – May 9, 2017
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"This wacky, charming novel. . . draws you in with humor, then turns out to contain both a suspenseful subplot and a sweet romance. . . Hilarious and moving." —People
“Eleanor Oliphant is a quirky loner and a model of efficiency with her routine of frozen pizza, vodka and weekly phone calls with Mummy. [She’s] a woman beginning to heal from unimaginable tragedy, with a voice that is deadpan, heartbreaking and humorous all at once.” –NPR.org
"Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. . . Eleanor Oliphant may be completely fine, but this book is completely wonderful." --PureWow
"Warm and funny. . . You'll want to read it."—TheSkimm
“Eleanor Oliphant [is] the kind of book you’ll want to devour in a single sitting.” --Vox
“Warm and uplifting." --POPSUGAR
“Sweet and satisfying, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will speak to introverts who have ever felt a little weird about their place in the world.” --Bustle
"Eleanor Oliphant is a truly original literary creation: funny, touching, and unpredictable. Her journey out of dark shadows is expertly woven and absolutely gripping." --Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You
“[Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine] made me laugh, it made me cry, and the entire time I beamed with joy at the beauty of this story.” –Krysten Ritter, actress, producer, and author of Bonfire
“Move over, Ove (in Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove)—there’s a new curmudgeon to love. . . Walking in Eleanor’s practical black Velcro shoes is delightfully amusing. But readers will also be drawn in by her tragic backstory, which slowly reveals how she came to be so entirely Eleanor. Witty, charming, and heartwarming, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a remarkable debut about a singular woman. Readers will cheer.” --Booklist (starred review)
“Eleanor Oliphant is endearing, [a] whip-smart read. . . a fascinating story about loneliness, hope, tragedy and humanity. Honeyman’s delivery is wickedly good, and Eleanor won’t leave you anytime soon." --Associated Press
"Honeyman’s endearing debut is part comic novel, part emotional thriller, and part love story. . . hilarious, deadpan, and irresistible." --Kirkus Reviews
“[A] captivating debut. . . This is a must-read for those who love characters with quirks.” --BookPage
“If you thought Fredrik Backman’s Ove was a charming curmudgeon, you’ll instantly fall for Eleanor.” --Hello Giggles
"The book is wonderfully, quirkily funny. You both ache for Eleanor. . . and laugh with her." --Seattle Times
“A touching, funny novel." --Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Debut author Honeyman expertly captures a woman whose inner pain is excruciating and whose face and heart are scarred, but who still holds the capacity to love and be loved. Eleanor’s story will move readers." --Publishers Weekly
- Publisher : Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition (May 9, 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0735220689
- ISBN-13 : 978-0735220683
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.27 x 1.08 x 9.26 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #31,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I read it to the end for book club, but it left me feeling like crawling into the back of a dark closet and sitting there for a day or two. (I went outside and tried to recover with some therapeutic gardening instead)
Her character is interesting, though, and well written. One of the most refreshing things about this novel is that it is well-edited. One or two slips, but on the whole, adequately prepared for sale (as opposed to, say, The Girl With All the Gifts, the publishers of which owe us all an apology - which, I am positive that Eleanor Oliphant would demand).
Nonetheless, the storyline is not altogether strong. The final 100 pages I was - as one review said - pushing to finish in a single sitting, but only because I had thoroughly lost interest and wanted to finish. It starts strong, with some nice surprises and lovely background details, but then the next steps become entirely predictable. Before reading the last 100 pages, I effectively had finished the story. The author seems to throw in the final surprise as a last ditch attempt to avoid this predictability, but it falls flat. The final surprise of the story contributes nothing to the tale, and feels like an amateur device intended to save the book, but in truth - if the author had left it out, I don't think it would have made an ounce of difference.
One the whole, this was a decent book, but not one I would pass along. Indeed, I accidentally ordered 2 copies and will be returning the second copy rather than gifting it, as I had originally thought I might. Chances are, if you are not excessively triggered by child abuse, you'll enjoy this book. But I am astounded that the book has received more praise than a mild - "Interesting" here and there.
There is so much to Eleanor. In the beginning, I thought that I didn’t care too much for her but as time went on and she opened up, well, I fell in love with her. I would venture to say that she is on the autism spectrum. What a sad story she had lived and what a wonderful world opening up for her. Beautifully written and just a lovely story, you will fall in love with Eleanor too.
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We are asked to believe that an alcoholic can drink herself into complete oblivion every single weekend, but never misses a single day's work due to her alcoholism. Has the author ever met any real alcoholics?
We are asked to swallow the ludicrous idea that a grown woman of Eleanor's age and intelligence seriously believes a bit of a makeover is all it will take for her to win the lead singer of a band, (a man she has never ever spoken to) as her true love. Not even a twelve year old with crush would think this fantasy could actually become reality.
My real beef, however, is reserved for "Mummy". I was bothered all the way along by the implausible idea that this homicidal psychopath had been allowed to keep in weekly phone contact with her abused daughter from her prison cell. It simply didn't ring true. Turns out it wasn't true and Eleanor is even more of a total nut case than we ever dreamed. Not to fear, readers! Apparently all that is needed to cure a psychotic delusion of some twenty years standing is a few outreach counselling sessions. How come we have anyone in a psychiatric hospital if clinical psychosis is that easy to cure?
So, Eleanor Oliphant is empatically NOT fine. In real life she would probably have been sectioned, but clearly there is nothing remotely "real" about this book which manages to trivialize both genuine loneliness, alcoholism and severe mental illness in one fell swoop!
I would compare it to two plays which are generally thought of as masterpieces, but which I find problematic. Anthony and Cleopatra and Death of a Salesman. Both of those seem to me to get bogged down in the misery of the characters, and lose momentum and engagement. I felt the same sort of thing reading Eleanor Oliphant. To put it another way, Kermode and Mayo in their film review radio show have a long running gag about the (now) critically acclaimed film, the Shawshank Redemption, that there is an awful lot of Shawshank before you get to the redemption. This is a redemptive book, but on the other hand ..........
So, the story (unsurprisingly) is that of Eleanor Oliphant, who is an accounts clerk at a small firm. She is a withdrawn loner, seen as strange by her co-workers, and is the butt of office jokes. She lives alone and her weekends consist of television, ready meals and two bottles of vodka, seeing no-one until she returns to work on Monday. As we follow Eleanor through the detail of her daily existence we learn about the tragedy of her life. A childhood dominated by a cruel mother who seems herself to have suffered something akin to Munchausen Syndrome, a subsequent adolescence spent in care, hints of something even darker, a loss of self esteem followed by an abusive relationship in early adulthood.
It is in this portrayal of abuse, loss of confidence, leading to further abuse, and eventually stultifying loneliness that the book is at its strongest. In fact in response to all she has been through, Eleanor has become deeply embittered and her consequent inability to interact with others exacerbates her loneliness. Eleanor's situation is one that it is all too convincing.
In her despair, Eleanor has developed a singular filter through which she looks at the world. In that, I would place this alongside such books as Matt Haig's the Humans, the Rosie Project, or the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in its use of a disengaged voice to comment on society. Contrary to other reviews I have read, I would not, however, describe her as quirky. In a similar way,I find it very difficult to view this book as being in any way comic. Partially this is because I struggle to appreciate the comedy of embarrassment, and this frequently teeters along the edge of that. Mainly however, it is because Eleanor's worldview is that of a catastrophically damaged and consequently embittered person, and I just can't find any humour in that, it's just too painful. (Also a female friend tells me that a waxing scene is funnier than I, as a man can realise.)
As the story develops, we meet Raymond, who is the only chink of light in Eleanor's existence, and also catch sight of the man she hopes will be the love of her life. Raymond is an interesting feature of the book. Much has been written about the concept of the manic pixie dream girl, particularly in film. Often criticised as inherently sexist, the manic pixie dream girl is a kooky, quirky, woman who has no inner life, no purpose within the story, other than to help the staid,buttoned up hero realise that there is more to life than order and reason. Well, Raymond is a nailed on manic pixie dream boy.
The presence of Raymond highlights the other major difficulty I had with the book, the inconsistency of tone. At one level, and at its strongest, this is a book about abuse, loneliness and mental illness. It deals with those issues in what seems to be a realistic and meaningful way. But then the presence of Raymond and the way the book ends, has a much lighter tone,more akin to a fable or fairy tale. I am drawn to make a comparison with Jane Eyre. While it is both a compliment and massively unfair to compare this to one of the greatest works if literature ever written, I think it illustrates the point I am trying to make. Both are works about the redemption of a young woman who suffers an almost unimaginably difficult early life. Jane Eyre has a deeply satisfying tonal consistency. It also grips the reader from first to last. By contrast, I found the early part of this alienating, it then dived even deeper into the abyss, before final reaching redemption far too easily with too light an air.
As I have written this review, I have possibly become more sympathetic to the book, so perhaps it deserves three and a half stars.