From the very first pages, one could deduce that Ms. Oliphant (as she likes to be called by strangers) is not completely fine. Certain aspects of her life are certainly considered ordinary: she has an ordinary job, a deep grasp of language and a steady schedule. Then one discovers that she has the savoir faire of a judgmental ninny. On top of that, she definitely has an abusive relationship with her mother. Oh, and alcoholism.
But the novel is not about whether she is fine or not. It’s about her journey to realizing that she is not fine, and, subsequently, taking the steps to changing her life. It’s oddly fulfilling to read about a character struggle with loneliness rather than being able to embrace it:
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.
Though initially a bit difficult to sympathize with our protagonist, the author did a wonderful job of making her mental health struggles tangible.
Did I mention that the vocabulary of the book is top notch? Definitely a GRE level novel.