Published in 2017 by Harper Collins, ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman which was actually discovered through a writing competition, has won the 2017 Costa Debut Novel Award.
Though she may seem very unusual to others, Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine with her life. “By careful observations through the sidelines”, she has worked out that being “socially successful is often built on pretending just a little”. She has a steady job and very relaxing Friday nights with a Tesco pizza, vodka in a cup that can hold the perfect fill and a little chat with mummy on the telephone.
As if on cue, Eleanor falls in love with an absolute wreckage of a person, Jonnie Lomord, in a snap. She makes mummy proud by keeping up with her ‘project’ of stalking the musician.
She tilted her routine to get all dolled up for her Prince to be. And this is where the humour kicks right into the guts in the midst of all the darkness gone by and yet to come. While she thanks Laura to make her all shiny, Eleanor is outraged by getting all hairless like a child in the name of Brazilian waxing.
Meanwhile, the unhygienic IT guy, Raymond had made it a ritual to have lunch together and keeps on nudging Eleanor to participate in social circles which makes her utterly perplexed.
As Eleanor and Raymond saves Sammy from a nearby death situation, all the three lives get interwoven, unnoticed. And each of them help one another realise things long forgotten or repressed away.
When all of a sudden, Eleanor realises her perfect life with Jonnie Lomord is no more possible, the utterly bewildered Eleanor finds comfort in the ‘Raymond kindness’. She realises conversations with him are immediately pleasant.
Little events here and there, like the conversations between Eleanor and Raymond’s mother, or the visit to Sammy’s birthday party makes Eleanor as sane as you and me.
All the care and kindness that Raymond shows; however cliché, makes us believe that good people still exist.
Eleanor and Raymond do not get entangled romantically, but Eleanor Oliphant reaches her happy ending, which can be safely referred to just as the beginning.
The fact that Honeyman has painted life with dementia and memory loss all over her debut novel is so amazing and cannot be thanked enough for. However ‘normal’ we think every one of us is, it is definitely a knock in the brains when Eleanor asks: “A philosophical question :if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And if a woman who’s wholly alone occasionally talks to a pot plant, is she certifiable?”.