I recently joined a book club in Sydney. I was a member of a book club back in Karachi as well but I never got to attend any of their meetings as in Pakistan it’s so hard getting books and they are so expensive. Usually the books chosen by the Karachi book club were beyond my reach (I could not afford a Rs. 1000 book every month). But this time in Sydney, I found the book chosen by the book club in my local library (YAYYY!) And I finished it before the meeting which is yet to be scheduled. The book chosen was “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” and I was super excited to read it because of all the rave reviews online. So did this book live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
First I will share the blurb of this book
The story revolves around a woman who is shown to be a simpleton. She works an ordinary job in an ordinary office and her life is moving in the same routine for the past many years. Then one day she sees a singer in a concert and falls in love with him. This singer brings a upheaval in her life as she starts paying attention to her physical appearance, dressing and personality. At the same time, a new IT guy joins her office and their paths interwine as one day they end up saving the same man at a traffic signal. Are you thinking what I thought when I encountered these two men in Eleanor’s life? Yes, I thought the same thing. But this is not a romance although there are touches of it but this is a totally different story.
The main character is of course Eleanor Oliphant. I am sure a lot of people will be able to relate to Eleanor as she suffers from low self esteem and navigates through life carrying a complex characteristic of people who are a little different and do not fit the criteria of social acceptance. Her observations sometimes are very very funny as you will see in my quotable quotes below. The other main character is Raymond, the new IT guy with whom Elanour accidentally becomes friends. Raymond’s motivation in hanging out with Eleanor Oliphant is not completely explained in the book. I have no idea whether this is done intentionally or is a mistake on the writer’s part.
The writing style is interesting as it is written in first person and we manage to see the intricate quirks of Elanor’s thought process but to be honest, the book got pretty boring in the middle. There is nothing to keep the reader glued to the book. The ending is a little surprising but I don’t know I couldn’t develop any sympathy for Eleanor’s character. The only saving grace of this book are the occasionally funny observations and occasionally deep reflections on life and situations.
This is a book in which we follow Elanour’s journey in overcoming her fears and shortcomings. I have read another book on an almost similar theme but which was based on a true story: After The Fire by Will Hill. The counselling sessions and the protagonist’s journey in that book is much more believable and realistic rather than Eleanor’s maybe becuase that book was based on a true story. Overall, I wouldn’t give this book a raving review.