Socially, Eleanor Oliphant is far from fine. She is an emotional cavewoman: awkward, technologically retarded and blunt. She lives in a straitjacket of habit: work, pizza, crosswords, vodka. She speaks as if she has learned English by studying Jane Austin on a different planet – her language is antiquated, her expressions woodenly proper. She dresses hideously in a sexless jerkin and Velcro shoes, carrying around a shopper bag wherever she goes. People annoy her and she is judgmental about them in return in the most hilarious way imaginable. The only person she communicates with regularly is Mummy who routinely puts Eleanor down. Other than that, Eleanor is alone. Her loneliness is acute though she doesn’t realise that.
And then Raymond, an IT guy from work, reaches out to her. It isn’t romantic (Eleanor has other – comical – romantic interests). It is just simple kindness. Eleanor begins to open up like a little flower touched by the early-morning sun. She takes the reader on a journey into her horrifying past. I won’t betray the story. Suffice to say that towards the end I was smiling through tears. A loveable story.