Eleanor Oliphant is a creature of habit. She eats the same thing day after day, nutritious, if boring. She’s worked at the same unchallenging job in accounts for a graphic design firm for 10 uneventful years. On Friday nights she buys a frozen pizza and two large bottle of vodka which she consumes throughout the weekend. On Wednesday evenings, Mummy calls to ridicule her. The reader assumes that Mummy is away in prison for something that happened on the night of the fire that scarred Eleanor’s face and made her the object of rude stares.
Predictable as her routine is, Eleanor’s point of view is anything but boring. She is steadfastly honest and direct and the results and her views on social norms are hilarious. She also takes things at face value. When someone tells her that her mother advised her to become a nail technician, Eleanor asks, “Is your mother an economist or a qualified careers adviser? Because, if not , then I’m not sure her advice was necessarily informed by the latest data on earnings, projections and labor market demand.” If you’ve read Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, you’ll find some similarities between Don and Eleanor.
When Eleanor falls in love with the lead singer of band at a concert she’s won tickets to, her routine is upended. Soon she’s buying electronics, lunching with a coworker, saving a life, going to parties, meeting new people, and making friends. When she realizes that her crush man is a jerk, she goes on a bender, and her coworker intervenes. It’s time for therapy and to remember what she’s trying so desperately to forget. Eleanor is a complex, unlikely heroine who will win readers’ hearts. Truly, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.