Meet Eleanor Oliphant, the almost-thirty-something-year-old heroine in Gail Honeyman’s debut novel “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”
She’s the UK version of Ellie Kemper’s character in the Netflix original “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
Eleanor isn’t as cheerful and bubbly as Kimmy Schmidt. And she wasn’t kidnapped by a man and forced to live in an underground bunker.
But Eleanor has survived her own traumas — ones that she drowns with weekend vodka binges in her apartment by herself.
And that’s been her routine for nine years. But then she sees this musician at a distance at a concert and she becomes convinced he’s going to become her boyfriend. This leads to a succession of hilarious and heartwarming firsts: first Hollywood bikini wax, first makeover, first haircut and first time she felt like she was pretty.
The reader is just along for the ride.
Honeyman’s novel is kind of funny and kind of sad — even if Eleanor doesn’t quite see it that way.
(Eleanor thinks she’s fine, remember?)
But the reader is like an extrovert peering at the habits of an extreme introvert, seeing someone who normally goes without seeing or speaking to anyone from the time she leaves work on Friday and returns to work on Monday.
Perhaps Eleanor doesn’t know how it feels to be anything other than lonely?
But she’s not alone.
None of us are — even if it may sometimes feel that way.
Honeyman’s novel is a call to action: to reach out and to be good to your neighbor.
It might save a life.