Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive - but not how to live. 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?
I hate it when there is a great deal of hype around a book - I'm always fearful when I read it that it won't live up to expectations. There are a few bestsellers out there that have singularly failed to wow me and then I find myself wondering if everyone else is more clever than I am that they saw something so wonderful in what I didn't.
So I'd been putting off reading Eleanor Oliphant for a while. There is just so much love out there for this book - that I really was scared of becoming a lone voice shouting at the wind.
I didn't know much about the book except from that everyone seemed to love it, I had read the blurb and I knew that the theme of loneliness ran throughout it.
What I was not expecting was to become so immersed in this story that i simply didn't not want it to end. It is by far one of the most uplifting books I have read in years, if not the most uplifting book i have ever read.
That's not to say there aren't bits in this book that pack hard, painful punches. At times I had to put it down and just think about what I had read. There is a punch delivered near the end - in a single line - that actually broke my heart.
But oh my God.... this book! This beautiful, life affirming, hope giving book. It shows that life can change in unexpected ways, that everyone has their story, their battle, their scars - physical and emotional and if only we learned to look beyond them we might find something really beautiful.
As a protagonist Eleanor is quirky, sad, funny, heartbreakingly unaware of what she is worth and someone who, within a few pages, despite her often brusque exterior, you find yourself championing, feeling her emotions, watching as she makes mistakes and picks herself up and walks around in a world where she doesn't seem to fit.
The supporting characters in this book - especially her work colleague, Raymond, are equally memorable and infinitely admirable.
The writing is exquisite, the gentle roll of the story, the drip feeding of information about Eleanor's past is done with such delicacy that this is simply a sublime read.
If a work of fiction can make the world a better place, this is it.
I loved every perfectly formed, beautifully pronounced, carefully placed word and I loved Eleanor.
Quite simply, this is a book you have to read..
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is published by Harper Fiction.
I purchased my own copy of this book for review.
A mother always knows best. Doesn’t she?What if your choice for your child could harm someone else’s?Every mother faces impossible choices. Vaccination is one of the hardest.
For single mum Kate O’Hara, there was no decision to make. Her daughter Rosie is one of a small percentage of Irish children who can’t be vaccinated against measles. All Kate can do is hope that her little girl is safe.
For mummy blogger Madeleine Cooper, it was a leap of faith she wasn't prepared to take when she and her husband declined controversial measles jabs for their daughter Clara. All she can do is pray that it’s the right decision.But when classmates Clara and Rosie both become sick will Kate pay for Madeleine’s choice?
A stunning and addictive new book club read from beloved bestselling Irish author Melissa Hill that explores every mother’s worst fear.
Two things immediately sprung to mind when I saw what this books about. The first is that, at the age of four, I developed Measles myself. I remember it as being particularly unpleasant and that I was so unwell that I could not even go upstairs at home and had to sleep on the sofa for a week - my poor father sleeping on the floor beside me. (My mother was in hospital having just given birth to my sister - the stress must have been immense).
The second thing is that I'm more than aware of the controversy surrounding the MMR vaccine and the now debunked theory that it is linked with Autism. As the mother of a child on the spectrum (who was vaccinated, as was his little sister) it's an issue that is emotive for me - and which I will always wonder about - debunked theory or not. Ultimately though, I fall very much firmly in the pro-vax side of the debate and I brought this to my reading of this new novel from one of Ireland's finest female writers, Melissa Hill.
The book pulls no punches - it shows just how horrific measles can be. It questions the reliance of some of herd immunity but more than than that it examines the very real and very human reasons why some people cannot or choose not to have their children vaccinated.
It may sound like this makes for a very preachy, medical heavy book but it absolutely isn't. It humanises both sides of the debate and while I think my sympathies always lay primarily with Kate O'Hara the single mother whose daughter contract the virus - I could see the side of Madeline Cooper also. I was really made to question my own prejudices at times.
But all this was wrapped up in the storytelling that Hill is so famous for. She creates warm, believable characters that you cannot help but care about. She pulls you into her stories so that you find yourself falling into the "one more page" trap and reading even when your eyes are drooping.
One thing to be said about Melissa Hill and her books is that she has been delivering killer twists in books long before the "twist you will never guess"' became the in thing. This book delivers a thumper of a twist too - which elevates it from courtroom/ family drama to something more.
Keep You Safe is a timely read with the safety of vaccines once again in the media (this time in relation to the HPV vaccine). The publishers promote it as an ideal bookclub read - and they are definitely onto something there.
But while it is a great bookclub read, it is more than that. It is one of Ireland's best storytellers writing a memorable, moving and incredibly thought provoking read. I loved it.
Keep You Safe will be published by HQ on September 21.
I received a review copy of this book from the author.
You never know who’s watching…
Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.
But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…
How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?
This is an OH. MY. GOD. jaw-dropper of a book, with a tantalisingly slow burn which turns into a pretty explosive finale.
Gushing as that may sound (because it is) I loved this book from the moment i started reading - perhaps for no other reason that when I was a little girl my most favourite toys of all - the one's I would spend hours and hours playing with - were my dolls' houses. They weren't fancy handmade ones, as in this book - one was a Caroline's Home and the other a Sindy House - but they were my most prized possessions.
So the premise of little items from these most beloved of toys showing up, rather menacingly, in a grown woman's life had me sold from the start. But there is so much more to this book - as it follows the lives of sisters Corinne (she who receives the dolls house pieces) and her older sister Ashley - in the run up to the first anniversary of their father's death.
There is domestic stress, fertility issues, financial worries - and that's not to mention the very raw grief the girls are experiencing - it would be enough to drive anyone mad. Which is exactly what Corinne's nearest and dearest (her beloved boyfriend Dominic) fears is happening to his fragile girlfriend. But of course it is more complicated than that - someone is playing a game behind the scenes - meticulously watching the sisters (as she has done for years) and biding her time until she can reveal the secrets of her own and claim what is rightfully hers. With a lot of psych thrillers it's a difficult balance reviewing a book and it's strengths without revealing some of the twists and turns. What I can say is that is that this book doesn't just twist and turn - it leads the reader to a point where they simply don't know who to trust in the book - and even to question whether or not, perhaps. Corinne is reacting to too much stress in her life as she undergoes her fourth round of IVF in the hope of conceiving a much wanted baby.
But more than that twists and turns - this book is beautifully written - it creates such a sense of place, such a claustrophobic feeling in its pages that I found I had to keep reading and reading and do nothing else until I found out exactly what was going on.
When I turned the last page, I wanted more - while acknowledging the book finishes in the most perfect way. This is one for book club discussions and I have no hesitation at all in recommending it as one of the strongest thrillers I have read this year. It is simply brilliant.
The Doll House is published by HQ Digital.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
For the love of books
A good writer must be an avid reader. I'll be posting reviews of some of the books I'm reading. Disclaimer: I'm not a book blogger - I'm just a reader. These are books I've chosen to read for fun.