Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – book review

Eleanor Oliphant is a name to capture the imagination so I was delighted to accept the offer of Amy to share her book review of Gail Honeyman’s novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I empathise with Any who has set herself a personal reading challenge for the year. I have done the same because otherwise I won’t take time out for the pleasure of reading and I am determined to do more of what I love this year.

Eleanor Oliphant

“Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a thought-provoking, fictional read that touches the heart of the reader with its underlying darkness that is a reminder of the “skeletons in the closest” that many people carry but do not share.

Following on from a traumatic childhood and years in foster care, Eleanor Oliphant is now a 30-year-old woman, working in an office in Glasgow, drinking vodka by the bottle and merely existing. With great humour, Honeyman captures the reader’s attention from the first few pages as she takes us through a story of heartache, hatred and happiness.

Fictional reads have always been my preference, getting lost in a storyline, page after page, chapter after chapter. This book was certainly one of those reads. I believe the success of this book depends largely on the female protagonist that Honeyman creates in Eleanor. From the onset, the reader knows that Eleanor is quirky, somewhat odd, but as time goes on and other characters are introduced, we learn of the life events that have shaped Eleanor’s personality.

One such character that is important in the development of Eleanor is Raymond, the male protagonist of the story. Equally as quirky as Eleanor but much less socially awkward, Raymond is a decent and kind-hearted man. He enters Eleanor’s world as a work colleague from the IT department but soon becomes indispensable in her life, ultimately saving her life. The friendship that the author creates between these two characters gives the reader that “feel good feeling” as Raymond relentlessly works to break down the barriers that Eleanor has built in response to her past and the troublesome relationship that exists with her mother.

When reading this book, I couldn’t help but relate Eleanor to a person that I know. This got me thinking about why we all are so different, not just in our physical appearance, but in our personalities too. We are a society that is often quick to judge. We judge people based on the clothes they wear, their extra-curricular activities, their marital status. Why? I can’t even answer that myself. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, as well as being an enjoyable read, is a book with a lesson; don’t judge a person based on what you can see.

I picked up this book because I had heard the title mentioned in various book lists and by my co-workers. I’m glad I “jumped on the bandwagon” – it’s a read not worth missing. This book was the fifth book I read in 2019 – the year in which I have committed to reading 25 books. You can keep up-to-date with my “to-read” list and book reviews here and I hope I inspire you to set your own reading targets for the months ahead”

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