Thursday, July 15, 2021

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Gail Honeyman. Viking (2017). 336 pages. Genre:  Contemporary Fiction.

First Lines:  "When people ask me what I do - taxi drivers, dental hygienists - I tell them I work in an office.  In almost nine years, no one's ever asked what kind of office, or what sort of job I do there."

Summary:  Eleanor Oliphant is a woman who prefers things to stay the same.  Every day she eats the same breakfast, takes the same route to work, does the same work, eats the same lunch, goes home to the same flat and eats the same dinner.  Every Wednesday she has a phone call with Mummy.  She is completely fine.  She doesn't need anything else.  One day when Raymond, a  man who works in IT, strikes up a conversation with her, a real conversation, she finds herself enjoying it.  She doesn't remember the last time she had a real conversation with anyone.  When she and Raymond find themselves in a situation where they must save a man's life, she finds her heart softening even more.  Ultimately, it is these friendships that will save her life.

My thoughts:  I like quirky characters.  Eleanor is definitely a quirky character.  However, it took me many pages to warm up to her.  At first, she was just really odd.  But as the story moves along, we finally get a glimpse of some tenderness in her.  She becomes likeable.  I'm glad I didn't give up on her.  

Eleanor's life is void of human contact, she is lonely.  But, she doesn't think she is lonely.  Sometimes she will admit that it would be nice to have a friend.  Mostly she avoids relationships because they cause pain.  She has gone through a lot of difficulty in her life and survived.  However, in order to get through the loneliness of the weekend, she often relies on vodka.  There is some heavy subject matter is this book, but the book never feels heavy.  Eleanor is funny and very relatable.  We have all found ourselves in situations like she has.  

I really liked Raymond.  He is just an ordinary guy, well an ordinary IT guy.  But he is kind and gentle and a true friend.  He is patient with Eleanor even when she is being very difficult. 

This story shows the power of friendship, kindness and unconditional love in a person's life.  It was these glimpses that I loved most in the story.

"She was, quite simply, a nice lady who'd raised a family and now lived quietly with her cats and grew vegetables.  This was both nothing and everything."

"There was birdsong, a descant over the sounds of a television drifting through an open window. Everything felt safe, everything felt normal.  How different Raymond's life had been from mine - a proper family, a mother and a father and a sister, nestled among other proper families."

"I realized that such small gestures - the way his mother had made me a cup of tea after our meal without asking, remembering that I didn't take sugar, the way Laura had placed two little biscuits on the saucer when she brought me coffee in the salon - such things could mean so much."

If you like quirky characters or stories of friendship and hope, give Eleanor Oliphant a try.


  1. I think I'm going to read this book. A friend of mine read it. Thanks for the great review.