Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine & Camino Island


Rating: 5/5

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE Eleanor Oliphant lives a very structured and (she thinks) fulfilled life. She has everything she needs. She has her job (8.30 to 5.30 with an hour for lunch), a half hour bus ride home followed by dinner of pesto pasta and salad (One pot one pan). On Wednesdays, she has a 10-minute chat with Mummy. On Fridays, she mixes this up by stopping at Tesco Metro for a pizza, a bottle of wine and 2 bottles of vodka which she consumes over the course of the weekend, neither drunk nor sober, waiting for Monday. She neither has, nor desires, a social life and is perfectly content with her existence. She is completely fine. Until her life changes when she falls in love with a musician, is befriended by her colleague Raymond and they save the life of an elderly gentleman together.

I just adored this book.   Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine has been my favourite book of 2017 so far, and is rumoured to be a motion picture in the making. A character like Eleanor would be easily unlikeable in the hands of a less capable author. She is awkward and difficult, yet somehow, you can’t help falling in love with her over the course of this funny and sometimes heartbreaking novel.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine is written in the first person and the reader is given a great deal of insight into Eleanor’s thought process. There is a lot of humour here, particularly in how baffling Eleanor finds other people’s reactions and behavior. Over the course of the novel, we see how Eleanor changes as she slowly lets other people into her life and we also learn about her terrible past. The other secondary characters are also very well written with the affable Raymond providing the perfect foil to Eleanor’s rigidity.

This heartwarming tale of an unlikely heroine who learns to open her heart will stay with you long after you finish reading. 5 well deserved stars, if not for the below quote alone:

“Birds, animals and insects provide such useful insights. If I am ever unsure of the correct course of action I’ll think; “what would a ferret do?”, or “how would a salamander respond to this situation” and invariably I find the right answer”.

Wise words indeed, Eleanor.

(Available in hardcover soon.  Currently available on Kindle.)


CAMINO ISLAND – John Grisham

Rating: 2.5/5

Although I am a longtime fan of John Grisham’s legal thrillers from the 90s, (The Client, The Firm etc.) I haven’t been that taken with his latest offerings so when I saw that he had released a new book, Camino Island, I was hesitant to pick it up. But it kept popping up everywhere I looked so I decided to give it a chance. (Seems peer pressure is real, even on Goodreads)

Camino Island, which is a departure from his usual legal thrillers, starts off strong – exciting heist where clever thieves make off with priceless original manuscripts from Princeton archives.  The manuscripts turn up at a (sometimes dodgy) rare book dealer, Bruce Cable’s Camino Island bookshop.  A mysterious insurance agent enlists the help of down and out author Mercer (I know right, Mercer?) to infiltrate and investigate.

This book fell flat for me after the initial chapters with a rather “meh” ending and a quite obvious twist. I struggled to identify with Mercer and found the author-turned-amateur-spy premise to be rather unrealistic. I also got irritated by the “romantic” angle (you will understand the inverted commas) and found the author gave Mercer very little credit in terms of being able to resist the charms of the rather sleazy Bruce Cable.

Loyal Grisham readers will no doubt still enjoy Camino Island but in terms of keeping me on the edge of my seat it doesn’t compare with recent best selling thriller’s like I am Pilgrim and Gone Girl.

I award 2.5 stars because John Grisham remains an excellent story teller and he did keep me engaged enough to finish the book.

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