Review of 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine'

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

eleanor_oliphant.jpg Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine…except she really isn't. She lives a simple life working in an office during the week and drinking herself to oblivion with vodka every weekend. This is not helped by the conversations she has every week with her cynical mother. One day Eleanor spots the lead singer of a rock band and falls head over heals for him. Convinced that when he meets her he will feel the same way Eleanor starts a program of self-improvement including a hilarious (and painful) trip to a waxing salon then a nail salon and, finally, a hairdresser. Along the way she meets Raymond, the IT guy from work, who finds her unusual but fragile. When Eleanor's delusion comes crashing down things take a very dark turn…

I can see why this book has won so many awards. It is quite funny in places but deeply disturbing in many others. The first half of the book is quite funny then it turns all serious with the final half dealing with Eleanor rebuilding (building?) her life. I have to admit if the big reveal at the end of the book was intended to be a mystery I had guessed at that quite a bit earlier (and I suspect many others will as well) though this in no way diminishes it's importance. I did feel it was slightly overlong with the points made hammered home time and time again, but there is enough here to keep the reader engaged.

This is a story of a woman so deeply traumatised by the events of her youth that she has shut herself off completely from the real world, engaging only in reality only so much as it takes to pay the rent and buy food. The story is told from Eleanor's rather unique viewpoint but with just enough observation to show the reader how her unusual behaviour is perceived by others – Quite a trick.

Easy to read but with a good story to tell and a bit of a sting in the tail.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-09-06

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: 2017

ISBN: 9780008172145