Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

ELEANOR OLIPHANT

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

by Gail honeyman

 

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine…but not really. her life consists of work – Monday to Friday, with very little in the way of human interaction. Then weekends spent at home, alone, not speaking to a soul from leaving work on the Friday to getting on the bus on Monday morning.

On Friday after leaving work she buys a pizza from Tesco and two bottles of vodka that she drinks throughout the weekend, never getting drunk but in a suitable haze to see her through.

Eleanor’s social skills are extremely limited; she has no filter for her thoughts and her only point of reference is ‘mummy’ who is cruel and vindictive and no longer in her life except for a weekly phone call.

Then three men come into Eleanor’s life…

The first she decides is the man for her: the one she will walk off into the sunset with. So she sets about updating her appearance for the meeting that will change her life, with hilarious consequences.

The second man is Raymond, the IT man at work. They meet when Eleanor’s computer breaks down. Raymond is one of the few people who is not put off by Eleanor’s blunt manner.

The third man is Sammy. When Sammy is taken ill, Eleanor and Raymond help him and the three become friends, resulting in Eleanor’s life opening up and a huge learning curve.

Eleanor is one of the most fabulous creations. Her thoughts on other people and the world around her are totally hilarious.

“I purchased it in a charity shop some years ago, and it has a photograph of a moon-faced man. He is wearing a brown leather blouson. Along the top, in strange yellow font, it says ‘Top Gear’. I don’t profess to understand this mug. It holds the perfect amount of vodka, however, thereby obviating the need for frequent refills.”

But at the same time she is vulnerable and holds dark secrets from the past. We follow her as she tries to come to terms with who she is and how she interacts with the world, with the help of the lovely Raymond. Their relationship is a joy to behold. His small kindnesses making all the difference to a woman who has never been shown any and known only loneliness.

This is such a powerful book, having strong themes of loneliness and heartbreaking sadness but with a huge warmth and tenderness. You’ll laugh out loud on one page and cry buckets on the next. I didn’t want this book to end and was bereft when I had to say goodbye.

Do not miss it. The best book of the year so far.

 

Many thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy.

Ultra Marathon Man

ultra marathon man

 

Ultra Marathon Man

by Dean Karnazes

 

Ultrarunning legend, Dean Karnazes, has run 262 miles – the equivalent of ten marathons – without rest. He has run over mountains, across death valley, to the South Pole, and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insught, candour and humour rarely seen in sports memoirs, Ultramarathon Man has motivated hundreds of thousands of people – runners and non-runners alike – to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and simply get out there and run.

 

I picked up this book out of interest, having done the odd 10k run myself.  I started reading the first chapter and I was hooked, I barely let the book out of my hands until I was finished.

From the first chapter when Dean is craving food while running in the early hours and ordering himself a pizza literally on the run, we follow his treks over The Western States Trail, through Death Valley and down to the South Pole.  These are incredible journeys that leave you gasping at what the human body is capable of enduring.

Dean’s first attempt at the 100 miles Great Western Trail is described in great detail and it is a totally engrossing read: the high points – not so many; and the low points – that get harder and harder to bear, as body parts start failing and some even fall off! Still he keeps going. The only complaint I have here is that no mention was made of the after effects and I really wanted to know how much damage he had done and how long the recovery was.

For his next challenge, Dean attempts to run through Death Valley in the height of summer with temperatures reaching 130 degrees fahrenheit, the asphalt underfoot exceeding 200 degrees; the run a mere 135 miles long.

After this, needing some cooling down the obvious place to go is the South Pole where Dean and a  select band of runners try to become the first runners ever to run a marathon to the south Pole.

I loved this book. I was totally immersed in Dean Karnazes’ adventures, metaphorically running alongside him in frank amazement but also huge admiration. The writing style makes it a very easy read and Dean comes across as a charismatic character. You don’t need to be an expert runner, or a sports person of any kind really, to read this, apart from some diet and training tips at the end, it’s not technical at all.

This is such an inspirational book, Dean karnazes’ attitude is so positive, his motto is:

      Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.

whether you want to run an ultra marathon or your goals are a little more modest and maybe just getting out of bed in the morning is an achievement, this can be applied to anything at all in life.

Highly recommended