Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was a lightweight and great reading material to me. Some time ago my mother-in-law suggested this book as one being read by many in London. Public transportation such as the Underground and buses are great places for implicit book popularity ratings. I resisted her suggestion, as my priorities were elsewhere at the time. But at the end of one very intensive week recently, I needed a short break. This book helped me to recuperate. It left a very warm feeling in me, like sitting by an outdoor fireplace in a very cold night, except this warmth burns no wood and causes no air pollution as it rises from the genuine kindness of people around us. It also lent me more faith in our capabilities to move forward in life, despite obstacles and hardships.
I had similar inspiration after reading Educated. The people and events in this book bear more familiarity to me, from the cultural immersion perspective. Both books managed to build up a formidable quiet strength in me throughout the reading process. It was not a choice. It was passed to me. I am a very grateful and glad recipient of that strength.
A few teasing passages for you:
Although it’s good to try new things and to keep an open mind, it’s also extremely important to stay true to who you really are.
In the end, what matters is this: I survived.
These days, loneliness is the 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.
When the silence and the aloneness press down and around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes, if only for proof of life.
“How brave are you prepared to be, Eleanor?” Laura asked. This was the correct question. I am brave. I am brave, courageous, Eleanor Oliphant.”
I allowed my mind to wander. I’ve found this to be a very effective way of passing the time; you take a situation or a person and start to imagine nice things that might happen. You can make anything happen, anything at all, inside a daydream.
All of the people in the room seemed to take so much for granted: that they would be invited to social events, that they would have friends and family to talk to, that they would fall in love, be loved in return, perhaps create a family of their own.
Life should be about trying new things, exploring boundaries, I reminded myself.