Thursday, 11 October 2018

Only The Lonely...

Liz read this book and she said she thought I would like it too. She didn't warn me that I would need a box of tissues to hand!
Award winning debut novel by Gail Honeyman, this is now being made into a book starring Reese Witherspoon.
I think RW is a great actor [eg her sensitive portrayal of June Carter Cash in biopic "I walk the Line" ]
Eleanor is 29 and lives in Glasgow. She's worked in the accounts section of a small company forever. She does her job competently- but doesn't really relate to work colleagues. She doesn't understand them, or the way they manage their lives. 
 “I have often noticed that people who routinely wear sportswear are the least likely sort to participate in athletic activity.”
She is a loner, and knows they regard her as the office oddball with the unexplained nasty burn scars down one side of her face.
 She goes to work everyday, comes home, eats tea and listens to The Archers then goes to bed with a book. On Friday night she buys a few groceries and 2 bottles of vodka from Mr Dewan at the corner shop. She stays home, drinks a bottle #1 on Saturday, and bottle #2 on Sunday, sleeps a lot...then the next week starts.
 “People don’t like these facts, but I can’t help that. If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.” 
Eleanor is pretty blunt, and sometimes says exactly what she is feeling, without full comprehension of how it will affect the hearer
“No thank you,” I said. “I don’t want to accept a drink from you, because then I would be obliged to purchase one for you in return, and I’m afraid I’m simply not interested in spending two drinks’ worth of time with you.”
She acknowledges to herself that she is a loner- but that loneliness is probably not something to admit out loud.
“These days, loneliness is the new cancer—a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.”
Then something happens- and she is inadvertently drawn into 'proper' relationships with other people - old Mr Gibbons [an OAP who collapses in the street] and Raymond, the computer geek from work, who happens to be beside her when Mr G falls.
The book tells the story, through Eleanor's own voice - funny, observant, occasionally confused. She has spent almost 30 years being an object that people had to deal with, not a person to be loved. She has accepted that this is her lot in life, and developed 'coping mechanisms'. She knows they all think she is a weirdo - and she accepts it, and gets on with her solitary existence. But one simple, unplanned act of kindness begins the journey that changes all that.
Gail, the author said "the point is that although she’s had a fairly catastrophic start, Eleanor is the agent of her own life. I didn’t want her to be portrayed as a victim, and I didn’t want her to be self-pitying either. I tried to leave space in the narrative so that the reader can feel those feelings on her behalf...the story of the transformational power of small acts of kindness, often involving food: complimentary truffles with a cup of coffee, a plate of biscuits to accompany a mug of tea."
She also points out that "computer nerd Raymond, hardly has the makings of a romantic hero – but then this is not quite a love story. It’s an exploration of platonic friendship...I think there are a lot of Raymonds in the world: he’s the sort of ordinary, kind, decent man who doesn’t often get featured in fiction.”
Thanks for the recommendation Liz- this is definitely ***** and worth borrowing from the library. But be warned- you may find yourself neglecting other tasks so you can find out what happens.  I've had to be very self-disciplined, I finished the book in three sittings, but then delayed writing this review until I had returned to the neglected ironing basket!


  1. I absolutely loved this book. Took it on hols to Cornwall last month and couldn't put it down. My best read of the year I think!

  2. I read it recently and found it very thought provoking.

  3. I've avoided the book because of all the hype...Maybe I should read it after all!!

    Fat Dormouse xx

  4. I read this book a while ago, I'd heard about it and luckily it turned up at the charity shop. I loved how different it was to so many other very popular books, I enjoyed seeing a fellow awkward and lonely (not that I'm lonely now) person right at the heart of a book.

  5. I read it initially because it was written by a Scottish writer. Riveting, thought provoking, and linguistically poetic. I thought the idea of loneliness in young people was treated very sensitively and I was glad that byboffering friendship, the main character also found friendship.

  6. I agree - it's in my top 20. Cheers from Carole's chatter

  7. I read this a while ago and found it quite disturbing rather than funny. Among those I know who have read it, we seem to fall into those who love it and those who find it too close to home. Most of the latter are mathsy folk, so it's nice to meet one who didn't find it thus! Glad I read it, but was left troubled rather than entertained.

  8. We read this last month in our WI book group and we 100% loved it (that’s a first 😉) No one seems to like this months though 🙄😀


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