By page 7, you feel like you already know Eleanor Oliphant, based on her own matter-of-fact narrative. She lives an ordered life dependent upon routine. She works in an office in Glasgow and eats her lunch in the staff room while doing crossword puzzles. She lives alone and has never invited anyone to visit. She is indifferent to her colleagues, who, in turn, are puzzled by her. She talks to her Mummy every Wednesday night even though she’d rather not. On weekends, she allows herself a little treat: a margherita pizza, some Chianti and two big bottles of vodka, which she consumes during the weekend.
By page 50, you realize that Eleanor Oliphant is not at all completely fine. The vodka should have been a clue. Something horrendous happened to her as a child, which left her with a prominent scar on her face and shuttled among several foster homes. Yet, her unfiltered speech and awkward social skills are often amusing and, at times endearing.
When she and Raymond, a scruffy IT guy from her office, help an old man who has fallen on the sidewalk, her world begins to broaden, much to her dismay. As she tries to navigate these new waters, she quizzically examines a foreign concept–friendship.
If only Mummy would stop saying such terrible things to her…