Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Publisher: Viking – Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: May 9th 2017
Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary
Purchase: The Book Depository
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
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.
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.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart
I expected Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to be a funny book. And it is, terribly so. But it’s also really emotional and tugs on your heartstrings, which makes it a really good début.
The book tells the story of Eleanor Oliphant, a 30-year-old who goes through the same routine every week. She has worked in the same position for the past nine years and drinks liters of vodka every weekend. In addition, she has terrible social skills. Throughout the book this often leads to hilarious interactions with other people, who Eleanor (ironically enough) criticizes on their social skills. She’s also very witty:
“I opted instead for a coffee, which was bitter and lukewarm. Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor! I said to myself, laughing quietly. I began to suspect that Mr. McDonald was a very foolish man indeed, although, judging from the undiminished queue, a wealthy one.”
But behind the hilarity is a much deeper story, as Eleanor turns out to not be completely fine. As the story progresses, bits and pieces come together of the childhood trauma that Eleanor has repressed and that is causing her pain. I thought it was heartbreaking, but brilliantly written. It also gives a lot of insight into mental illness.
Moreover, it is also a story of friendship and the kindness of other humans. Eleanor’s friendship with Raymond was so endearing and I appreciate how the author didn’t push towards a romantic relationship. The story is about Eleanor after all. I also really loved her interactions with other characters, such as her boss and the employees at the department store. All characters and relationships were really well written.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a funny, endearing and sad story that shows you the power of kindness and that there is always more going on with people than you think. It’s a really memorable début novel that I would really recommend!