Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
4 out of 5 stars
“Some people, weak people, fear solitude. What they fail to understand is that you don’t need anyone, you can take care of yourself.”
Unhelpful One (ish) Sentence Summary: Eleanor Oliphant’s life is fine, up until it isn’t anymore.
I am dispensing of the dot point format this week.
I originally picked this up because it was being passed around the staff room like some kind of illicit substance at a party. Everyone was whispering about it and passing it on to the next person. Being the one in charge of the library collection, I made sure to snaffle a copy too! One of my co-workers said that she’s not sure if she enjoyed it or if it was just a really compelling book and I would tend to agree. It’s not really my thing, but I found myself hooked in from the first paragraph: who was this weird person? I ended up reading the whole thing in two sittings. It was so readable. I’ve seen people complain in their reviews about it spending too much time on the most insignificant things, but I think the point is that these things are significant to Eleanor. While I was so incredibly frustrated with Eleanor throughout (see my progress updates!), she was such a compelling character and someone who is so easy to root for. Honeyman mentions in the afterward of my copy that she wanted to explore and different face of loneliness, that wasn’t a neglected elderly person. Not knowing much about the clinical side of things, I could really see the truth of her depiction of Eleanor’s life. My mum tells the story of visiting her grandmother on Sundays, and how her voice would be scratchy from not having spoken for days on end. That this could be the case for people around my age wasn’t something I had considered. It certainly gave me something to think about.
Eleanor learning (or relearning) to develop connections with the people around her was so nice to read, and I found myself cheering her on and being so proud of even her smallest steps. And of course, her friendship with Raymond.
I still don’t know if I actually really enjoyed the book, and I’m not sure if I can be any more coherent than I’ve already been, but I can safely say that Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, was completely fine (groan).
I can’t wait for Reese Witherspoon’s movie to completely butcher it and set it in America.