October 2017 Club

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

 “There was, it seemed, no Eleanor-shaped social hole for me to slot into.”

Eleanor Oliphant is a 29-year-old finance clerk who works in a graphic design company in Glasgow. She goes to work Monday to Friday, completes the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword in her lunch hour whilst eating her Meal Deal and gets the bus home at 5.30pm. Same routine every day. Except on a Friday. On a Friday evening, she treats herself to a margherita pizza from Tesco, a bottle of Chianti and two litres of vodka which she drinks from her charity shop Top Gear mug. Weekends go very slowly.

When we first meet Eleanor, she favours wearing a navy jerkin, comfortable shoes and wearing her hair waist-length. Office culture is beyond her – she doesn’t understand why training shoes, denim trousers and a cartoon t-shirt constitute acceptable office wear and is partial to a formal email. She wonders if her fellow employees would notice if she didn’t turn up. Her only points of reference for how to act socially is her sinister Mummy, who is away somewhere and her love of animals “What would a salamander do?”.

But having seen ‘the one’ on stage one night, she decides that perhaps she should make a few improvements to prepare herself for meeting the dapper musician. Eleanor’s view of society as an outsider makes the scene where she plucks up the courage to go for a bikini wax very amusing. A new hairstyle and a visit to the nail bar ensue.

Simultaneously, she gradually makes her first genuine friend in life; an IT guy called Raymond. They are drawn together when they help a pensioner who has fallen in the street, which leads to several social opportunities for Eleanor with the family who are eternally grateful to them both for saving his life.

A simple story on the face of it, Eleanor Oliphant has a deeper, darker history which she’s been trying to block out for many years. She is reluctant to talk about the story behind her facial scarring. Eleanor is such an endearing character with such a unique voice that captures the modern phenomenon of loneliness and social isolation. Kindness is the hero in this novel.

Colourway inspiration

The semi-solid colourway is called Sea Holly and is inspired by the glorious bouquet of flowers that her colleagues give her on her return to work. It marks a both a turnaround in her life and her recovery from her traumatic past. It is to the author’s credit that Eleanor keeps her quirky characteristics, but is just happier in herself. There’s no implication that a makeover or a love interest turned her life around.

The semi-solid colourway is called My Happy Place and represents the space in Eleanor’s mind where she goes to escape the pain of everyday life – “the pink and white fluffy place with bluebirds and gentle babbling streams.” “The one that’s the colour of clouds. It smells of clean cotton and baby rabbits. The air inside the room is the palest sugar almond pink, and the loveliest music plays.”

The yarn type is a new addition to the SQ range called Linger. Like Entwine, it’s a high twist sock yarn but extends to 425m and has a slightly higher nylon content. Tough like Eleanor.