Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

What’s it about?

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My thoughts

This book is utterly delightful. It doesn’t flinch from the more unpalatable aspects of Eleanor’s life, but manages to convey them charmingly.

Eleanor’s appeal lies partly in her naivety around the social niceties we take for granted- buying rounds of drinks for examples, or the office politics around birthdays- but also in her desire to change that and fit in more once she “finds love”. As the reader, we can see her feelings are merely a crush, but to inexperienced Eleanor, they are a seismic event.

There are clearly darker forces at play in this book, as signposted by her weekend two bottles of vodka in the blurb, and Honeyman is skilled a gradually revealing Eleanor’s past in a way that doesn’t feel formulaic or hackneyed. Also worth mentioning is Honeyman’s adeptness at character; they were a joy to read. In particular, Eleanor’s odious mother is a masterclass in manipulation and cruelty.

I usually give away books once I’ve finished them, because I’m not a big re-reader, but this one I’m keeping. It was original, funny, and so refreshing.

Would I recommend it? 

Yes, definitely. Give it a go if you liked The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is published by HarperCollins priced £8.99, but you can probably find it on offer somewhere.

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