We Need to Talk About Eleanor

Spoiler alert: Eleanor Oliphant is not completely fine

Un. Put. Downable. More readable than The Silence of the Girls, more compelling than Killing Eve, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was so addictive that I went to bed late and started reading again first thing. I didn’t even do the crossword, that’s how engrossed I was. Basically I read for four hours yesterday interrupted only by dinner and tennis, and then another hour this morning. Wow.

I’d had an unfair idea about this book, that it was basically light fiction (I’m trying to avoid using the term chicklit) with a twist. I was wrong. If I had to categorise it I’d say it was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time meets We Need to Talk About Kevin. OH has done an excellent summary here so I won’t sport with your patience (or mine) by recapping the plot, but will skip straight to the novel’s strengths and weaknesses. The best feature of this novel was its readability; not in any facile sense but in terms of engaging the reader with the central character who seems, like the narrator of Curious Dog Night-time (as we call it) to be somewhat autistic. She doesn’t understand social interactions and does her best to mimic others, hoping to pass for normal: I can relate to this so hard it makes my heart bleed. Like the narrator of Kevin, she is a survivor of horrific abuse and like her has continuing – and horribly difficult – contact with the perpetrator of that abuse. But this is a hopeful novel, one which starts from a low base and builds gently, gradually and at times amusingly (I laughed out loud a lot) to its conclusion. It reminded me of Goodnight Mr Tom in the way the central character is surrounded by loving, helpful, ordinary people who become her true family. Eleanor Oliphant treads the line between the facile and the grim and leads us towards the light.

If I had to make a criticism I’d say dialogue isn’t Gail Honeyman’s strong point. Eleanor’s speech is perfectly done as she sounds like a cross between a station announcer and the Queen Mother, but ordinary everyday dialogue doesn’t come across so well. But that’s nit-picking; I say this is an excellent read and I give it 9.5 out of 10! Get a copy today.

Kirk out

And one, and two, and twirly twirly twirly..

‘Murray serves out wide, Tsonga returns, quite a short ball allowing Murray to go into the net and a beautiful cross-court backhand take it out of the oven after about 15 minutes or when it’s brown and there you have it….

Interesting tennis yesterday.  I supposed it’s very good of the BBC to let us watch the iplayer when we have no TV licence and I guess I should be grateful but after 3 sets of the Murray/Tsonga match I did NOT want to watch some bloody cookery programme with a couple of bizarre blokes instead of seeing how it ended.  Saw nearly all of the Federer match – that was weird.  The guy hardly ever makes any unforced errors and yesterday he made loads.  I wonder what was up.  Perhaps he was feeling pre-menstrual.

Reading ‘Inconceivable’ by Ben Elton, which was made into a film called ‘Maybe Baby’.  Before that I read ‘The Curious Adventure of the Dog in the Night-time’, the title a parody of a Sherlock Holmes story.  It’s about a boy (!) who is autistic, written from his point of view.  He is very good at Maths and has a support worker called Siobhan who is the only person who understands him.  It purports to be a children’s book but passes seamlessly into an adult read.  Had I not been told it was for children, I wouldn’t have known.  It also gives me some insight into the mind of Mark, who has some autistic tendencies, I think.

Mark’s mum has hurt her knee on some bus-related incident and has to see the doctor today.  So on Saturday I will have a day Buggering About On Buses, thus:

from Leicester to Swithland.  Spend a little time at the chalet.

From Swithland to Loughborough.  See Joan, pick up bag of stuff.

From Loughborough to Syston.  Visit someone and talk about yoga.

From Syston to home (I might get the train at this point).

If the buses were all run by the same company I could get some kind of Day Rover ticket.  But they’re not.  Which makes it look like a rather bothersome sort of day as opposed to the kind of thing you could do in five minutes with a car.

Ah, but think of all the bothersome work I’d have to do in order to buy and maintain a car – instead of being able to write!

That’s the spirit!

So – we look forward to Murray playing Nadal (Rafa is also not on his best form and Andy has beaten him twice out of four meetings) and hopefully getting to the final.  It’d be fantastic if he won!

That’s it now.  The title is a quote from ‘A Knight’s Tale’ (highly recommended film) and is because I woke up at 5.30 am!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Yes, I know it says ‘4.53’ up there but my laptop doesn’t do BST)