This is a wonderful, quirky, sad, funny, heartwarming, and utterly original book and I enjoyed reading it so frigging much. Honestly, I don’t think I can remember the last time I so thoroughly delighted in a first novel.
Eleanor is a lonely young woman who oftentimes will not talk to a single soul from Friday evening when she leaves her office job until Monday morning when she comes back. On the way home at the end of the week, she pops into the local store and buys two or three bottles of vodka to help her get through the long non-working hours, mostly sleeping or watching television.
We know Eleanor has suffered great neglect and abuse by her mother but are shielded from the extent of the cruelty, much as Eleanor herself is, for most of the book. Mother and daughter share weekly phone calls on Sunday and each time mom goes from sarcastic to vicious until she disappears. It is never clear where mom is. Is she in jail? A psychiatric facility? It appears that wherever she is she has no control and is bound by orders and rules.
I felt a deep and throbbing empathy for this lost child Eleanor, incorporating her story into my dreams and inserting myself in the narrative as I went along.
The beauty within these pages is gentle but shines brighter as you get deeper in. Friendship and how just one true friend can make all the difference. Eleanor, much to her surprise, makes a friend at work - the IT guy Raymond who comes one morning to help fix her computer and they begin an awkward, amusing and life-changing relationship. One single soul who lights up with a smile when they see you is pure gold.
I appreciate an author who opts to teach me a few new words and expand my vocabulary. Painters leave pictures, architects leave buildings, engineers design bridges and gardeners plant wonderlands. Writers and great communicators leave words and sentences, scenes, songs and poetry. I do so admire Shakespeare; we all benefit by the words he created. Like lonely. Lonely was a word that didn’t exist until Will looked deep in his soul and thought about the feeling one has when by themselves and not wanting to be or enjoying it deserves its own proper word. Lonely. Not just alone but also not happy about it. (Question - What is the word that means being alone and savouring it? Isn’t that is a good and distinct enough feeling that it too warrants a term. Please if you know such a word leave it in the comments. Please.)
Gail Honeyman invented one, I’m fairly certain as it’s in no dictionary I can find. Zetabetical; alphabetically but in reverse starting with z. I like it! Not sure if I’ll even have the opportunity to use it because who does anything zetabetically? It seems obvious but trust me, I searched and found no other instance of it. Are humans really all so straightforward?
Gail Honeyman is a true talent who stoked my joy of reading into a blazing force with her very first book. I can’t recommend this book enough but warn you, you will lose a little piece of your heart to Eleanor.