It’s not often you come across such a unique and moving novel, and this one took me completely by surprise. When I was first introduced to Eleanor Oliphant, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of her. In the opening chapters she’s blunt, antisocial and obsessive. But as the story unfolds Eleanor's behaviour paints a clearer picture: one of unspoken loneliness and isolation, both from the world and her own emotions. Eleanor Oliphant is clearly not fine, despite her protestations.
However, her insular life is rudely interrupted when she witnesses an accident involving an old man with her colleague Raymond. This becomes the catalyst for the course of events which puts Eleanor on a path of realisation, as she learns how to reconnect with herself and those around her. Honeyman’s skilled writing makes you feel like you’re there with Eleanor every step of the way. By the final pages, you’ll be joining the queue of other readers who want to give her a great big hug and tell her that she deserves every moment of her happy ending.
Honeyman’s debut novel shines a light on the damaging effects of loneliness, putting it at the centre of the conversation about mental health and yet, the darkly humorous writing and overwhelming feeling of compassion the novel evokes make it hard to stay sad for long. It is the power of the small but life changing acts of kindness that Eleanor experiences, which makes it such a joy to read and it’s those genuine, live-affirming moments that’ll stick in your mind long after you’ve finished the book.