Book Review| Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine… Or is she?

“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”

About the book.

Author: Gail Honeyman

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/ Viking

Pages: 336 Pages (Kindle edition)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Blurb:

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one

Gail Honeyman has succeeded in creating a character you cannot help but love.

I’m really starting to trust my good book senses, because I recommended this book in this list of summer books to read, just off the blurb. I’ve been working my way through that list slowly and so far, so VERY good! You may want to give it a look here.

Eleanor Oliphant is a bit of a social misfit. She has no friends, lives alone and has a strictly regimented life. Although a highly efficient worker during the week, she essentially sleeps through weekends (with the aid of vodka). We are introduced to Eleanor and her way of seeing the world, which is both astute and comically socially inept. The novel rolls on pretty innocently at first until Honeyman begins to reveal who Eleanor really is, and perhaps why she is who she is. I really enjoyed Honeyman’s storytelling. Eleanor’s story is slowly and carefully relayed. Refreshingly absent, are the unnecessary suspense or theatrics many writers cannot seem to do without.

As stated in my goodreads review (and everywhere really), Ms. Oliphant’s character is undoubtedly my favorite in a while. Her elocution is often precise and so unique. She manages to talk even about the simplest things in the most formal ways. If you enjoy language, you will enjoy reading Eleanor’s narration. Occasionally brutally honest and unintentionally teetering on mean, Eleanor manages to still be funny. She also appears to be on the autistic spectrum, from her lack of social skills.

Although marketed as a love story, the romance is only a small part of this story. This book is most significantly a story of self discovery, acceptance, bravery and friendship. It is a story of hope, resilience and the control we can have over our own lives if we so choose. Honeyman’s novel is most certainly a pageturner and I found myself thinking of Eleanor whenever I wasn’t reading. I still think of her. I truly have become fond of her and creating such a character is no easy feat.

Gail Honeyman has succeeded in creating a character you cannot help but love. Click To Tweet
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Image via explosivebagel.com

Some Quotes:

All the studies show that people tend to take a partner who is roughly as attractive as they are; like attracts like, that is the norm.

I feel sorry for beautiful people. Beauty, from the moment you possess it, is already slipping away, ephemeral. That must be difficult. Always having to prove that there’s more to you, wanting people to see beneath the surface, to be loved for yourself, and not your stunning body, sparkling eyes or thick, lustrous hair.

Your eyes are always “on”, always looking; when you close them, you’re watching the thin, veined skin of your inner eyelid rather than staring out at the world.

She looked at him with so much love that I had to turn away. At least I know what love looks like, I told myself. That’s something. No one had ever looked at me like that, but I’d be able to recognize it if they ever did.

Bob has aged badly during the time that I’ve known him; his hair has almost all fallen out and he has put on quite a lot of weight. He looks rather like a  dissolute baby.

I thanked him. No one had ever bought me lunch before. It was a very pleasant feeling to have someone incur expenditure on my behalf, voluntarily, expecting nothing in return.

A human hand was exactly the right weight, exactly the right temperature for touching another person, I realized.

But, by careful observation from the sidelines, I’d worked out that social success is often built on pretending just a little. Popular people sometimes have to laugh at things they don’t find very funny, do things they don’t particularly want to, with people whose company they don’t particularly enjoy.

Obscenity is the distinguishing hallmark of a sadly limited vocabulary.

when you took a moment to see what was around you, noticed all the little things, it made you feel… lighter.

It was a very pleasant feeling to have someone incur expenditure on my behalf, voluntarily, expecting nothing… Click To Tweet

In summary, Gail Honeyman’s debut novel is arresting, evocative and deeply funny.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

And one last quote:

“There are so many books in the world– how do you tell them all apart? How do you know which one will match your tastes and interests? That’s why I just pick the first book I see. There’s no point in trying to choose. The covers are of very little help, because they always say only good things, and I’ve found out to my own cost that they’re rarely accurate. “Exhilarating” “Dazzling” “Hilarious”. No.”

@GailHoneyman 's debut novel is arresting, evocative and deeply funny. Read this review. Click To Tweet

Ah, dear Eleanor. That’s why we need reviews, like these eh?

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  • taynement

    I hated this book. Very surprised i finished. i gave it 1 star.

    • Loool you hated it because?

  • I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews on this one, but I still want to read it! I’m hoping I’ll have time to read it soon. 🙂