"Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman is a very readable novel. It is easy to turn the 383 pages as we delve into the damaged life of an improbable heroine. Eleanor is lonely and awkward, haunted by the ghosts of her past but at a basic level she is able to function in society. She has a job and a flat and at weekends she treats herself to bottles of vodka..
As you can see there are burnt matches on the novel's front cover. You may be able to guess why they are there. They speak of her past and those demons she has been unable to shake off.
Eleanor has never had anyone she could call a friend until Raymond comes along. He is the computer troubleshooter in her workplace. They have lunches together and gradually she learns to trust him. Like his mother, he has simple kindness in his bones and he recognises Eleanor's pain. He wants to help her.
This was forty-something Gail Honeyman's very first novel but it has been met with rapturous enthusiasm and for several weeks earlier this year it was Britain's number one bestseller. Film rights have already been purchased by Reese Witherspoon and in the course of time Eleanor's story of survival and triumph will no doubt appear on the silver screen.
Technically and artistically it is by no means the best book I have ever read. It has its flaws and its weaknesses but at its heart there is a damned good story. It is a story of loneliness in modern life, of the baggage we carry and of little acts of human kindness. Ultimately, the novel is uplifting and human. In the final analysis, we are optimistic about Eleanor's future. She has turned a massive corner.