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1962, Anchor Bend, Oregon.
The sea calls to Eleanor. Like the turn of the waves it beckons her from the heart of the town she’s always known, from her husband Hob and their young daughter, Agnes, to the unfathomable depths of the ocean.
1985. Agnes’s daughter Eleanor is six years old. She shares her name with the grandmother she never knew and everything else with her identical twin, Esmerelda. But to Agnes, only Eleanor is a constant reminder of the past.
1993. After a dark event leaves her family in tatters, Eleanor, now 14, is left caring for her alcoholic mother, whose grief has torn her apart. But when Eleanor’s reality begins to unravel, she starts to lose her grip on time itself, slipping from the present into strange other lands where she’s in danger of losing herself altogether.
Eleanor is the story of choices that ripple through time far beyond the moment they’re made. And what happens when, just sometimes, bonds are so powerful they reach beyond this world and into another....
"Gurley's masterful prose is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman...enchanting, magical and powerful." (Ernie Lindsey, USA Today best-selling author of Sara's Game)
"An ambitious book of many wonders...by turns otherworldly and heartbreakingly true." (Elizabeth Collison, author of Some Other Time)
"Jason Gurley is the kind of storyteller that makes you excited to sit down and spend a day reading." (Ted Kosmatka, author of The Flicker Men and Prophet and Bones)
"Ambitious, challenging...as original as A Wrinkle in Time." (Michael Bunker, author of Pennsylvania)
"A really poignant, moving story...sneaks up on you [with] a series of emotional uppercuts. Read it and weep." (Daniel H. Wilson, best-selling author of Robocalypse)
"A virtuoso performance...Eleanor might just be the book of the year." (Russell Blake, best-selling author of Jet)
"Haunting...if you liked The Ocean at the End of the Lane, you'll love Eleanor." (Peter Cawdron, author of Feedback and Anomaly)
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Surreal and tender
I really liked this novel for the most part. It starts off quite conventionally, the story of a young family, the mother depressed, the dad trying to hold it all together. It's written compellingly and with great tenderness. We move on to the story of their daughter and how her own daughter copes with her depression and alcoholism after a great tragedy befalls them. Again, wonderful and moving writing.
The fantasy part of the book is very enjoyable to begin with; the scenes set in a strange land, where the past can be tuned into as easily as flipping channels on the tv.
Towards the end of the novel, the surreal world in which time is not linear takes centre-stage for all the characters. I feel the book lost its way a little here and I got slightly impatient for things to resolve. This feels like a minor quibble however, the book is, on the whole, wonderful and delightfully genre-defying.