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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Today is World Book Day and Gibraltar Cultural Services has organised several initiatives in place of in person events including book reviews by local avid readers. The World Book Day offering forms part of GCS’s Youth Arts Jamboree. Book reviews will be published in the Chronicle daily until tomorrow.

By Carmen Anderson
Eleanor Oliphant has actively created a routine which has kept her as socially distant as possible.At first reading, Eleanor comes across as a little bit weird; she has some unusual quirks and habits, she makes no attempt to ingratiate herself with people, and she speaks exactly as she thinks, without tempering her words with social niceties.

Through her work, Eleanor meets Raymond, the firm’s IT engineer who has his own quirks, but completely unlike Eleanor, is not remotely rigid in his approach to his life or routines, and above all, does not worry too much about personal hygiene.Unlike Eleanor’s other colleges, Raymond is kind and friendly towards her, quite happy to instigate conversations and even suggesting that they socialise together. Raymond is a complete contrast to Eleanor, and the coming together of these two contrasting personalities creates a colourful, engaging relationship.

Together, Raymond and Eleanor help an elderly man and their kind action brings them into closer communication. Eleanor has little in her life except for work, frozen pizza, vodka, and calling her Mum. She doesn’t seem to crave anything more. We gradually come to an understanding that Eleanor is trying to shield herself from hurt, perhaps as a consequence of something that happened many years earlier.

Yet, as the story unfolds, the friendship with Raymond gradually begins to breakdown her defences, to give her the opportunity to mend her broken heart. I found this a heart-warming, uplifting story, that talks about the value of friendship and human warmth, and how important close relationships are. Reading this during the COVID pandemic, where so many people have been kept apart from their close friends and relations, made this particularly poignant

Carmen Anderson is a student currently on her gap year. She is spending her time writing for various local publications as well as for her own blog ‘Into the Industry’. She is participating in a number of productions with Bayside and Westside Drama Group for this year’s Drama Festival, both as an actress and director. Carmen hopes to continue to contribute to Gibraltar’s arts and culture and plans to go to university in September to study Drama and Film.

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