Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

eleanor

Today was meant to be my next Chitter-Chatter day. Today, I wanted to talk about books’ re-ratings.

Then I read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and changed my mind. I must tell you about this book. I just have to get it out of my system before I forget… 🙂

I started reading it on Monday’s night this week and had it not been for that pesky thing called work, I would have read it till early hours of Tuesday morning.

I told you Educated was my book of 2018. Well, I’m not sure if it still holds. I really, really fell in love with Eleanor, who is completely fine by the way, thanks for asking.


I’ll start with a warning.

This book deals with some tough issues such as loneliness, social isolation, child abuse, shame as well as death. I will include trigger warnings at the end of my post but if you are sensitive to any of these, please proceed with care, it is a sad book.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant (Ms.). Our main protagonist. She is of course, as the title suggests, completely fine.

Or is she?

“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 is someone, you just cannot help falling in love with. She has no social skills, doesn’t understand emotions or relationships and likes to say it as it is. Whilst thinking she is doing everyone a favour of course.

She is a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t want to purposely hurt anyone but can not keep her mouth shut at times. She can be judgemental and even arrogant at times but as the story starts unfolding, we start glimpses of where that thinking is coming from. And she is willing to grow. Something I find fundamental when deciding whether to like a character or not. Her highly articulate and brilliantly descriptive thoughts made me laugh out loud so many times. This book strikes a lovely balance in bittersweetness. There are many extremely sad parts but there is also this warm undercurrent of human goodness.

“There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar. A strong gust of wind could dislodge me completely, and I’d lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock. The threads tighten slightly from Monday to Friday.” 

Eleanor likes her routine, which is an admin work from 9 to 5, combined with a meal-deal lunch and a crossword puzzle. She also enjoys a few bottles of vodka on weekends, which help her with her sleeping habits. Then there are those regular Wednesdays’ calls with Mummy… but Mummy is someone we don’t like to talk about a lot. And then there’s the man of her dreams. She finally found him. He doesn’t know it yet but it’s only a matter of time…

Eleanor is an extremely intelligent person. She likes order and logic. Here’s an example of what she thought of some of those warning signs we like to put onto everything these days. This is her first McDonalds’ coffee experience:

“There was nothing to tempt me from the choice of desserts, so 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.”

There is something raw and vulnerable about Eleanor. She never belonged anywhere. She had a challenging upbringing and also happens to suffer with acute shame, which makes her shy away from a human interaction. She is lonely and withdrawn. There is also that numbing part thanks to those bottles of vodka. I talked about numbing in this post. When we numb difficult emotions, we also numb those lovely emotions such as happiness and joy. They don’t stand a chance. And you can feel that in this book. You definitely can.

I loved everything about Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Its witty writing, consistent pacing and all those wonderful characters. Eleanor is the main protagonist but there are many supporting personalities that I enjoyed reading about as well. They are really what this book is all about. They are vivid, charming and you just want to know a little bit more of them and have to keep on reading.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, emotional and physical abuse, sexual assault, self-harm, suicide, depression and addiction. As said, it is not a light-hearted fun book, please take care if you are sensitive to these. ❤️

Recommended? Yes! Yes! Yes! Especially if you enjoy character driven books. It’s an utterly mesmerising book that will make you laugh whilst having tears in your eyes.


Over to you:

  • Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?
  • If you haven’t read this book, what do you think? Fancy reading it?

43 thoughts on “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman”

  1. You know, I’m not at all surprised that you loved this book! I’d been hearing such great things about it, and it definitely sounded like your kind of read. 😉 But of course, it sounds like MY kind of read too! Bittersweet, conflicted (but still likable) characters who bring a sense of humanity and emotion (plus wit, yay!) to the table? This definitely speaks to me!

    By the way, this is currently sitting on my TBR as a guaranteed favorite. I’m hoping to cherish it at the right time, but I loved reading your thoughts on this. Terrific review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a sad read. But that humanity aspect, that is always there, gave me hope. I could not believe this was a debut novel, I absolutely adored both the writing and how consistent the pace was. I honestly thought I was reading a book from a well-established author and was thoroughly disappointed when I found out there were no other books from Gail Honeyman to read… (My typical ‘living under a rock’ attitude… 😉 )

      I really hope you enjoy it when the right mood strikes you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a little sceptical about the upcoming movie as well. I sincerely hope that the movie won’t be done in a way of audience laughing ‘at’ Eleanor as that is something I slightly worry about. But as you said, only time will tell…

      I’m so happy you loved this book too! 🙂

      Like

      1. Hmmm, that’s actually a great point. Her voice could be heard in the background, like a narrative, but not sure what she would do whilst ‘talking’. Look at a camera?… or….she could also talk to the camera directly, like actors do in theatre plays – House of Cards style. Not sure… It’ll certainly be interesting to watch what they do with it though…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read this one yet, but had read two glowing reviews that made me decide to put it on my wish list. Everyone is saying good things about it, including your good self. So much so, I have moved it to my buy list. I think this is just my kind of read, as I feel already (from what you wrote) that I can identify with Eleanor. No, no, I don’t numb myself drinking bottles of vodka. But we all know what it’s like to be lonely, and feel alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a sad book Alex, I am an expat and loneliness and feeling lonely are both known to be. What I really appreciated about this book though, were the warm undercurrents of human goodness. There are many good people out there that care. And I found that came across really well.

      I hope you enjoy it should you decide to read it, its writing is truly wonderful. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sad can have a positive effect too, Vera. Not to wallow in, but to use as impetus to motive and or do something. We can still be sad about life and loss and get on with life at the same time, as long as we don’t let it define us, like any emotion. And a book that highlight both sadness and the goodness we can find in each other, has got to be worth the read.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m quite interested to read this one!
    I saw a review a while back that mentioned things that were unrealistic, like E. not knowing what a high five was (I think) and some other similar things. Do you think it was unrealistic in some things?

    Also, where i come from, people usually say how they are when asked. This leads to overlong conversations so most people doesn’t actually ask, unless they talk to a close friend or someone they do care about. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, she did not know. I thought about it and decided to accept it as ‘possibly plausible’ because of how isolated E. kept herself – she withdrew and did not pay attention to what was happening around her. She didn’t use internet / smart phone / laptop. But… it is probably a bit far stretched because she did go to a school and I can imagine you would hear that there. Unless you completely isolate yourself and are utterly oblivious to your surroundings… Dunno, there were a few instances which I thought probably were not 100% realistic but the writing as well as the protagonist wan me over. 🙂

      Same. I remember being asked ‘How are you’ for the first time and decided to answer it in a rather lengthy way to then realise that ‘fine’ would suffice. 😉 I now say I am marvellous or outstanding just to throw people off… it’s a great fun he he. ‘Alright?’ is another conversational topic I used to have problems with. 😉 So funny how different languages / cultures communicate. 🙂

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      1. Haha, my go to answer to ‘how are you’ is ‘mmmm, not too bad’. The mmmm part is very important. I dunno why 😀 but i always do that.

        Ok, i see what you mean. If the story / characters interest me and i fall in love with them, i can forgive a bit of unrealistic stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 😀😀

        Same here. I hope you like this book should you read it at some point. I read mine via library app Libby – had to wait for it for a while but it was worth it. 🙂 I’m thinking about buying it now as a gift for a few friends. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words Brittany. ❤️

      I hope you do enjoy this book should you read it at some point. Happy reading. 📚

      Like

  4. So much of what Eleanor said or thought that was supposed to be off-putting (I think) I actually agreed with. I read the book earlier in the year and thought it wasn’t what I expected at all actually I spent most of it thinking it was a little overhyped but the ending certainly had that emotional wallop that brought it all together. Lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it. She spoke her mind and I also found that refreshing. I thought her thoughts influenced by her ‘Mummy’ were corrosive ..but her observant thoughts about what was happening around her were very to-the-point and I did not not see them off-putting either.

      My problem is how this book is labelled. As something light-hearted, a chick-flick even. And I worry that people may laugh at E. rather than with her.. if you know what I mean. That they may say: eh, what a freak. But the bottom line is that loneliness is an issue, there are many people who are extremely lonely and the ending did give me hope.

      And yeah, I agree re that emotional wallop as well. 🙂 I also appreciated that the writer didn’t try to change E. Even at the end. And that she didn’t try to ‘save her’ via giving her a partner either.. 🙂

      Like

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed it as well. I am really curious to see what Reese W. will do with those movie rights. Fingers crossed! 🤞🍀
      And thank you Inge. 🙏❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Each review I read of this book teaches me something new. I hadn’t realized Eleanor is funny! Even though she is lonely, it’s sounds like there’s this internal humor that strikes her at certain moments. How great 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so neatly put! 😊 I did laugh with her at her internal observations but never at her, because her situation indeed was not funny. I think the steam of consciousness may not work for everyone but I really loved getting in this character’s head.

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  6. This is a book that I really, *really* want to read because the characters sound so complex and your description of Eleanor makes her so *human*, but I feel like the “loneliness” and “emotional-withdrawing as a coping mechanism” part might end up being triggering. 😢 I’ll just keep it in the “Maybe One Day” pile and bask in your glorious review for now! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have not read this book a while back as I know I might have been triggered then. “Maybe one day” sounds like a good plan. ❤️❤️❤️ There is no point reading something that may have that effect on us, too many other books to choose from. 😊📚💕

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  7. I could not stop recommending this book to people! I’m normally a ‘read a few pages and savor it’ kind of reader. But I couldn’t do it with this book! I loved Eleanor immediately and wanted to devour the entire book in one sitting (I also had a similar “have to go to work” obstacle that kept me from doing that). It made me think, laugh, cry and laugh again. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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