Englischsprachige Literatur

Honeyman Gail

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

HarperCollins, London 2017


This debut novel really is “touching” as Jojo Moyes is quoted on the cover, a real, sparkling jewel. It makes you wonder, what kind of personal experience by the author went into it.

Of course, you can easily enumerate all the narrative role models, that Honeyman (nom de plume?) follows, like “the Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion, “This book will save your life” by A. M. Homes et al.

But Honeyman narrates her story about the healing process of a depressive mind in an authentic, amicable way. Every character in the book is looked at with kindness and understanding. As the author says in the Q & A chapter at the end of the book, she wanted to show how small  acts of kindness can heal a troubled soul.

And troubled her heroine, 30 year old Eleanor, is, although she never really complains, takes her status as a neglected coworker, utterly lonely individual for granted. She functions during the work days and drinks herself senseless at weekends.

Of course, there is a “red John” lurking in the shadows: Her troubled childhood, when she and her younger sister were tortured by their mother, who set the house on fire, when Eleanor was 10 years old. And, of course, her past is gradually disclosed, parallel to her painful way back to normalcy, which is initiated by Raymond, an IT guy at her company. He is the first to show her unconditioned kindness.

The reader follows Eleanors progress full of sympathy, even her use of exuberant vocabulary, learned from endless cross word puzzles.