Stuck in traffic morning and evening, reaching home only at the wee hours only to sleep. Making food and eating all alone, sleeping through the weekend waiting for Monday, I see so many Eleanor Oliphants around me. Slowly the world is getting a very strange place full of people who have an isolated world of their own.
“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”
Eleanor Oliphant is a story of an ordinary woman. She is isolated, not by her choice but by her circumstances. She is very productive, a creature of habit and most importantly is a survivor. In the flock of new books which glorifies supermen and superwomen, Eleanor’s story is more about an ordinary person ( regardless of gender).
Eleanor’s inner voice is of a strong lady who is a survivor. But as she grows up with the government aid and foster parenting, her inner voice is muted to a level that she goes into complete isolation. The story is usual, but the narrative makes it unique. Eleanor would have been a boring character, minus the narration. She is mundane but hilarious at times. Her blunt take on the world amused me throughout the read.
“I was in a fast-food restaurant for the first time in my adult life, an enormous and garish place just around the corner from the music venue. It was mystifyingly, inexplicably busy. I wondered why humans would willingly queue at a counter to request processed food, then carry it to a table which was not even set, and then eat it from the paper? Afterward, despite having paid for it, the customer is responsible for clearing away the detritus. Very strange.”
Her deep insight on loneliness was profound:
“These days, loneliness is new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.”
After reading Eleanor, I felt a kind of restlessness in my heart for all those who are going through depression. Mental illness is a real thing, and though it is very common for us to guess it in case of Eleanor who is living an isolated life, it is tough to identify a person with depression having a huge social circle. Maybe most of them are good in pretending that they are very happy and doing great but they are lonely inside.
What mattered in the story of Eleanor is that She survived and was completely fine, but that is not how the story would end in many cases.
“Sometimes you simply needed someone kind to sit with you while you dealt with things.”
Eleanor Oliphant is a good read, especially if you are a kind of person who likes a slow story which takes its course midway through the book. Worth a read.