Book Reviews

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (Book Review)


Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman


Genre: Adult contemporary


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.


Sometimes some books come along which open your heart and make you laugh out loud and somehow at the same time you feel tears springing into the corners of your eyes and you sigh at the amount of happiness the book you’re reading is giving you. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is one such book.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Or so she thinks. Except that she may not be completely fine or normal. She’s socially ineptthirty years old, she lives alonehas no friends, and has clearly struggled through something in her childhood and has a shaky relationship with her mother. But still, she thinks that she’s completely fine. Gail Honeyman skilfully unfurls a story of the life of Eleanor Oliphant and her journey through finding self-love and self-worth and how important it is to be who you are and true to yourself.

The author thrusts the reader into Eleanor’s life – her mundane routine at home and at work, her Fridays slated for margarita pizza and her Wednesday phone calls to her mother. She’s a simple person who has absolutely no social sense whatsoever, has an extremely literal manner of thought and speech and pretty much everything to her is either black or white.

But the author makes it so endearing. I could not help myself from smiling at some of the things she did. If you or I met Eleanor Oliphant in our daily lives, we’d probably shrug her off as a nutcase. But not even for a moment does the author let you feel that way about her. Eleanor is a complex, complex character to write but the author has mastered it.

A lot of things in the book are sad. There is a devastating event lodged somewhere in Eleanor’s past which clearly she’s still struggling through. There’s her relationship with her mother which is difficult and makes the reader yearn for answers. There’s some representation of clinical depression in there too. Then there are the little things – how her coworkers make fun of her, how pretty much nobody seems to make sense of her, how lonely and alone she is and how sad that makes herself – which leave a tinge of sadness in you.

But to say that the book itself is a sad book would be wrong. It isn’t a sad book. It’s a hopeful book, and manages to fill you with happiness. It’s Eleanor’s journey as she discovers little things that matter and make her happy and unknowingly, she discovers her self-worth and learns to love herself and her life. You see that she is just as human as you and I, she needs and wants all the things that any person would, and when she finally allows herself to experience everything, she finds happiness.

I know that a book is bigger than just its main character, but the author makes the entire book about the main character and it satisfies you. The side characters, apart from Raymond, exist merely in the background but somehow it works for the story. The story moves forward with a plot which is interesting, engaging and of course, the writing is a delight to read.

Overall, this book is excellent. I highly recommend it to everyone – no matter what kind of books you like, this one is a must read.


5/5 stars


5 thoughts on “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (Book Review)

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