“These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way”, author Gail Honeymoon was heard saying to The Telegraph when her debut Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine grabbed the Book of The Year at the British Book Awards.
You have an Oliphant at your office. Every workplace does. We’re talking of the office oddball.
Eleanor Oliphant struggles with social skills, scuttling around in office, clutching her bag close to her, till its finally time to go back home. A timetabled life is what she leads, one that is orchestrated to avoid social interaction and punctuated by the same things everyday. In her words, she finds it “much much easier to do cryptic crosswords than read expressions on faces”. Oliphant orders the same meal daily, picks up the same two bottles of Vodka every weekend and doesn’t forget to chat with Mumma. She has perfected surviving, but not how to live.
Her life is turned on its head when she and office IT guy Raymond save an elderly man who they find collapsed on a sidewalk. The incident turns them into confidants who then rescue each other from the desolate lives they’ve been leading all along.
A novel on loneliness (we like to call it modern isolation) and how only a disruption in your routine can result in change that has been waiting in the side wings all along. Honeyman will reaffirm that only conscious, active change leads to change, not merely hoping for it. In the author’s words, “we can all fight against loneliness by engaging in random acts of kindness.”