I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in a while but these past couple of weeks have been mental! I moved back into halls of residence last Sunday for my third year at university (how exciting?!). So whilst I’m studying, I was thinking about writing a few posts about the current books I’m reading. I’m an Literature student so there will be plenty, ha ha. So, here we go:
Last week’s read was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (whom, may I add, is visiting university in a few weeks time and when I found out I fan-girled SO HARD). This book was such an easy read, one you could do in a couple of days, it’s hard to put it down. I’d heard nothing but good things about it and I was so keen to start the year with a book I knew I was going to love. Eleanor is a strong, feisty, independent 30 year old, whom over the course of the novel you learn to love. She has the same routine week in, week out. An uninspiring, low paid job keeps her busy Monday to Friday, a 15 minute phone call with her imprisoned “Mummy” every Wednesday, and her weekends are spent with two bottles of vodka and a pizza from the local store. She is a woman who avoids social contact, and despite her impeccable vocabulary, she does not recognise pop culture (such as the Power Rangers, Top Gear and thinks ‘Bobbi Brown’ is lazy for not turning up to work). It quickly becomes abundantly clear that she is not completely fine, despite her reassuring herself. She meets Raymond some time into the novel, who shows her the importance of kindness, and how she deserves happiness. Throughout the rest of the story the reader sees their friendship blossom, to the point where Eleanor begins to confront her troubled past. Little by little, the reader becomes aware of the terrible trauma she endured at such a young age. It is a novel filled with lump-in-your-throat-moments that make you feel so much empathy for her but also so much joy and warmth. Until, those last five pages. That plot twist. “Police confirmed today that the bodies recovered from the scene of last month’s Maida Vale house fire belonged to Sharon Smyth (29) and her youngest daughter Marianne (4).” It soon becomes obvious that “Mummy” is just a figment of her imagination. This realisation was so startling that I had to go over the sentence at least five times to realise I’d read it correctly. It is such a strong comment on the mental impacts of a toxic mother-daughter relationship, but despite this, it only gets mentioned in passing once more on the second to last page: “I’m fine. I mean, yes, obviously, I’ve got a lot of things to work through, very serious things. Dr Temple and I are going to keep talking about all of it – Marianne’s death, how Mummy died too, and why I pretended for all those years that she was still there, still talking to me.” I’m not a person against cliff hangers at all, if anything they’re all the range in fiction right now, but when you’ve invested hours into a character and their development, it is exasperating to be thrown a huge curveball that has been brewing to burst throughout the novel, for it then to be left hanging in the air. It is a shame because until those last few moments, I’d been loving Eleanor Oliphant, and I wasn’t expecting to be feeling so lost and frustrated at the ending.