Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Yet Another Peculiar Protagonist Seeking Community.

Yet another novel about a peculiar protagonist who begins the novel alone and misunderstood and who ends the novel connected with community and understanding her quirks as endearing and/or strengths. I suppose if I hadn’t read so many novels with the same plot and with the same variations on character theme I might find this one endearing. But as it is, I’ve had quite enough of this sort of thing.

The surplus of these stories – the unlikely protagonist who is a grump, or a self-imposed loner, or peculiar because of some ailment of another – does make me wonder what it is about these stories that resonates so clearly with the reading public. Is it that we all think we are misunderstood, too? And are just waiting to be discovered and saved by those around us? Or is it a call for a recommitment to the importance of community for mental health?

Speaking of mental health – this novel does a bizzare disservice (I think) to counselling. Eleanor experiences clinical depression and seeks counselling. And then – bam! – with less that a month of visitng her therapist she’s had a major – major!- breakthrough and is well again. I’m not – at all – disparaging or disputing therapy (the contrary!) and I’m glad the novel sees it as a useful tool for Eleanor (and for the plot, actually), just that I found it unbelievable that Eleanor works through her particular trauma in the course of half a dozen one hour visits. Call me skeptical.

I did find her relationship with Raymond to be endearing and heartwarming. True all of these sorts of novels are decidedly heartwarming. If also tired and manipulative. Oh bother. I can’t reliably report on this one because it’s too much of the same thing for this reader. And maybe because I’m also a curmudgeon in need of a rescue? If finding me a benevolant friend/hero proves too difficult, I also accept rescue in the form of chocolate and wine…

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Filed under Bestseller, Book I'll Forget I Read, Fiction

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