As someone who always has a book “on the go”, someone who goes restless when she reaches the final chapter of a book without having a new one lined up ready to devour, I read a lot of ok-ish, average books. Books that have a good storyline, preferably a dark scandi-suspense-whodunnit – but above all, books that slot into to my daily routine of reading before turning the lights off at night.
As such, it’s not often that a book grabs me, takes me by the throat and keeps smouldering long after I finished it.
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine did just that.
The central character of Eleanor is a slightly odd, scarred-faced, plastic bag- clutching person who hides from all social interaction and when she does need to speak, she is too eloquent, too formal and to matter-of-fact for people to warm to her. Her entire existence is clear, orderly and empty. She works all week, goes home on a Friday night, heats up a Tesco pizza, drinks two bottles of vodka and speaks to nobody until Monday morning comes round again.
Reading the first couple of chapters, I felt deeply sorry for her profound loneliness. But Eleanor is also extremely hilarious and had me laughing out loud numerous times!!
This is her going for her first ever bikini wax:
Now then, what are we doing today?
As I said, a bikini wax, please.
Yes, sorry, I meant what kind of wax would you like?
Just the usual kind…the candle kind?
What shape? You’ve got French, Brazilian or Hollywood.
I pondered. I ran the words through my mind again, over and over, the same technique I used for solving crossword anagrams, waiting for the letters to settle into a pattern. French, Brazilian, Hollywood…French, Brazilian, Hollywood…
Hollywood*! Holly would and so would Eleanor!
*ps – with a Hollywood bikini wax ALL pubic hair is removed…until nothing is left…nothing!
What ultimately touched me so profoundly, though, is how Eleanor’s life changes through meeting someone who seems to see past all of her flaws, doesn’t mock her, is genuinely kind to her and fundamentally accepts her the way she is.
BAM! That just struck a chord with me….in a world where we have become so self-obsessed with image, persona, eating avocados and being successful and oh so smiley on Facebook and Instagram, do we even realise how judgemental a society we have become?
To accept someone is to show respect for and validation of who they are, what they do, and for the life and path they chose yet non-acceptance seems to have become the norm. We constantly try to mould other people to be more as we think they should be, to fit the norm, the set convention.
After reading the last page and closing this beautiful book, I realised I don’t take enough time to actively remind myself that every person is doing the very best that they can do under the given circumstances.
That there is power to just letting be, to accept and to feel the quiet warmth of unspoken words of another person.
So to all of you I have encountered in my life, in passing moments, work situations, friendships distant, long past or still very close … Thank You…for allowing me to be me, eye-rolling moments notwithstanding, for not judging, for laughing with me and not at me, for listening and accepting, even when disagreeing… Thank You ?
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