I should tell you now, this is not a balanced review.
Only the other week, I was telling you I hadn’t found a new favourite book in a whole year and that I hoped 2018 would bring something wonderful. Here we are, not even a month in and I’ve met Eleanor Oliphant, a stoically sensible, socially inept woman disrupting her careful routine and embracing new experiences for the first time in ten years.
It was published back in May (on my birthday – is it fate?) yet it still feels very new and is everywhere in the media, due to recently winning the Costa First Novel Award. The novel already feels timeless so I’m sure there are many more awards to come.
Honeymoon sets up Eleanor’s personality and world remarkably fast: before the end of the first chapter, I was completely on her side. The tone and style reminded me irresistibly of one of my favourite authors, Fredrik Backman, so I was hardly surprised when I read several reviews comparing Eleanor to Backman’s Ove. Like Ove, Eleanor has no filter and even less social skills, saying whatever comes into her head with little thought for how it might make people feel. Though it is often rude, it is just as often endearing.
Throughout the book it is clear there is something about Eleanor’s past that her trauma has blocked access to, and I was pretty certain I knew what it was. I was half-right, but there was an extra twist that I wasn’t expecting. Honeyman may have done this on purpose – set up an obvious twist so you wouldn’t see the bigger one coming. It works.
There is a hint at romance but first and foremost this is a book about Eleanor’s journey, and it’s rare to find that kind of story these days. It’s a story with all the ingredients for a new favourite of mine. Eventually it will enter that treasure trove of books that I bought both physical and digital copies of. Well done Gail Honeyman!