Menu
Books / Reviews

Book review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman.

Wholesome, endearing and urgh just exquisite. 

“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.”

Eleanor Oliphant Is completely fine, gail honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant was a character developed to explore loneliness, but it does so much more than that. The book trails a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, broken homes and the complexities of social structures. 

“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.”

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, GAIL HONEYMAN

Eleanor Oliphant is the kind of woman you can imagine greeting in a customer service role and dreading. I’ve dealt with enough of them myself. Quirky, difficult, demanding. But, harmless, socially awkward and unintentionally rude. 

“I find lateness exceptionally rude; it’s so disrespectful, implying unambiguously that you consider yourself and your own time to be so much more valuable than the other person’s.”

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, GAIL HONEYMAN

This book is a little difficult to get into and gel straight away. It’s like the character herself. But, when you get to know her, you follow her journey and you learn of her scars – physical and mental, you start to love her more and more, page by page. 

Honeyman has created an exceptional character. A social misfit, her whimsy and peculiar habits shine through every aspect of the book and slowly begin to warm your heart. Her childlike innocence has suspended in time, and despite knock backs and maturing, never quite fades. The whole story makes you want to pull her into a warm, albeit slightly awkward, embrace.

“When you’re struggling hard to manage your own emotions, it becomes unbearable to have to witness other people’s, to have to try and manage theirs too.”

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, GAIL HONEYMAN

Initially I thought this book might perhaps lead to a discussion on learning disabilities or mental and developmental disorders like OCD and Autism. And while it touched on these topics, this tale, while not being reductive, simply explores the impact of loneliness and isolation.

I felt akin to Eleanor by the end and I was fully rooting for her, jerkin and all. I hope when you read this you do too.

“I feel sorry for beautiful people. Beauty, from the moment you possess it, is already slipping away, ephemeral. That must be difficult.”

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, GAIL HONEYMAN

No Comments

    Leave a Reply