At the office where Eleanor has worked in accounts for nine years, she’s an outsider and a bit of joke. People talk about how weird she is behind her back.
Eleanor has learned how to survive – but not how to live.
She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Closed off, alone, and unfamiliar with the world, the reader discovers Eleanor has spent time in care and has to endure visits from social workers who stare at her scars.
One simple act of kindness pierces the walls Eleanor has built around herself. And with the start of a friendship with Raymond, she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Humour works to reduce the pathos and strangeness of a character who speaks with a comical and strange mix of archaic, Victorian, primness and precision.
This is not memoir or autobiography. It’s a fictionalised portrayal of the legacy of trauma, a writer who has done her research homework around the silence that accompanies this and the ultimate loneliness that difference and reclusiveness can create. Eleanor’s story is all too familiar to those who have experienced the ‘care’ system, arriving traumatised and often leaving even more broken. Told with warmth, humour, and a sad poignancy, weird, quirky, and eccentric, Ms Oliphant will have you laughing and crying simultaneously. Here is a character you will really care about.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is published by Harper Collins.