Despite this book being raved about by so many, and making an appearance on tons of “My Favourite Books” lists, I had no idea what it was about. I picked it up on a whim during a long road trip when I just wasn’t feeling the books that I had packed (THIS is why you always overpack books, people!).
From the description on the back cover, I was expecting an easy-breezy, chick lit style book about a quirky-but-loveable character – and initially that’s what it appeared to be. Eleanor is a slightly odd 30-year old woman who lives a solitary, routine and logic driven life, and is indeed full of quirks. But it doesn’t take long before the reason her life has played out this way is hinted at. There is a dark and traumatic childhood that she has repressed, but is affecting all the aspects of her adult life. Her past is hinted at in glimpses of memory that comes back gradually, and the reader can piece together the trauma long before Eleanor herself does. In a mystery novel, I’m always a bit disappointed to figure it out before the reveal – if I can figure it out before the detectives in the story do, I feel like it wasn’t written well. To me, being surprised by a reveal = a win. But figuring this one out didn’t feel disappointing at all. Instead, the reader joins the cast of characters surrounding Eleanor who know or have discovered the truth, and are patiently supporting her and waiting for her to uncover it herself. When she gets there, it’s equally heartbreaking and beautiful.
While I wouldn’t say this is a ‘happy’ book, it’s a beautiful story about how kindness and unlikely friendships can change lives, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.