Dear Eleanor Oliphant,
Listen — you say you’re completely fine, but give me a break. On the third page of your book, you tell us you hadn’t invited another human being, voluntarily, across the threshold of your Glasgow flat for all the years you’ve lived there. The meter reader doesn’t count.
At age 30, you’re “a self-contained entity.” You drink way too much vodka every solitary weekend. Oh my, and you believe almost everyone you meet is rude or have “woefully inadequate” social skills. My dear, it’s easy to see that you’re the one with a huge deficit in the area of interpersonal relations.
But I did give you points for being a reliable office worker. And then there are the scars. When I learned one side of you face is disfigured, I began to feel some sympathy, knowing there was some history there we readers needed to learn in order to figure you out.
Well, it took some investment of time. But I’m glad I kept turning the pages.
Along came various chinks in your armor! First of all, you came down with a ridiculous and humongous crush on a rock star and start beautifying yourself. Then, along with a coworker named Raymond, you happen to come across an old gent who has fallen in the street, and together the two of you end up rescuing him. Later, you’re goaded into visiting him in the hospital.
Sweet, bumbling Raymond starts asking you out to lunch — and for the first time in what seems like forever, you realize you have a true friend. Slowly the story of your life with the most horrid mother on earth, a house fire she set, and your subsequent placement into foster care are revealed.
And that is where I’ll stop, as I do not want to totally expose your secrets. So even though at first, I didn’t take to your story, by mid-book, I was rooting for you. All the way.
Things that had been long roiling in your subconscious come to light and are even shared with other human beings. Congrats on meeting many challenges and telling us of your struggles. I closed the book feeling quite impressed with its author — you, as channeled by Scottish author Gail Honeyman.
Take care now and maybe later on, let us know more of how you are getting on in life.
A most delighted reader
PS Have you read the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend? There were droll, darkly comic bits of your tale that reminded me of Adrian Mole, high praise indeed!
Keddy Ann Outlaw
A librarian for nearly 30 years, Keddy is also a veteran reviewer for Library Journal. Formerly an art major, she’s now busy making mixed media collages, prints and assemblages, and posting as “The Lone Star Librarian” on her website, Speed of Light.