This book is super popular, and I finally got the chance to read it this summer! So I thought I would write a review of ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’, to see whether I think it was worth all the hype.
‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ is about a young woman who lives by her routine. She goes to work at the same time every day, buys the same meals for tea, and calls her mother everyday at the same time.
Eleanor doesn’t understand social interactions, the result of living alone for many years, and having no one to depend on but herself. While this has made her lonesome and unhappy at times, she is also self-sufficient, in a no nonsense way which is funny and endearing to read.
Early on in the book, Eleanor meets Raymond, the IT technician at her workplace, and a friendship forms. Together, they help an old man who collapses in the street while they are walking home together, and, after that point, they continue to come into contact with one another.
Raymond really helps Eleanor to open up, and when she actually starts to talk to people, breaking her long-held rule of minimal communication, she finds that people find her no-nonsense way of speaking hilarious, and she soon opens up to the world.
While her friendship with Raymond is going on, the story also follows Eleanor’s search for love. After watching a concert one night, she develops a crush on a singer from a band, and so the book also covers her meticulous research on this person, and her quest to find true love.
Throughout the book it also becomes clear that Eleanor’s past life is something which still haunts her in the present. Things begin to come through as the reader finds out more about Eleanor, and towards the end of the book her past life threatens to envelope her completely.
She tries to repress this past life by living a structured and lonely life, but Honeyman makes the key argument that you can’t repress everything, and eventually her past life tries to catch up with her.
I really liked certain aspects of this book. I loved the character of Eleanor (and not just because she has my name ;)). I think that her character was fresh and new, and the way that she kept the key aspects of her personality even after opening up and coming out of herself was brilliant to read.
With this kind of book, the characters often change into someone completely different, but Eleanor stays true to herself, while also opening up and accepting the help she needs. I really liked the ways in which she changed, and it was really satisfying to see her open herself up to new possibilities.
Eleanor’s character was also brilliant in the way that she said what she meant, and didn’t deviate from the truth. Her cutting remarks and constant miscomprehension of social situations made the book comical, and while it was clear that Eleanor had had a distressing upbringing, her personality really added a touch of comedy to the novel.
It was the fact that Eleanor was such an interesting and unique character which kept me interested in the book, and there were so many fantastic lines where Eleanor pointed out the ridiculousness of a social situation, merely through the fact that she did not understand it.
However, after all the hype that this book received, I found myself a little disappointed. The book was a lot longer than it needed to be, and while this book didn’t focus on plot, I did find myself occasionally checking how much I had left to read, which is never a good sign for a book lover!
While there were so many things I loved about this book, I just found the book a little stereotypical, I guess? It just didn’t really shock me in the ways I thought it would, and I never got that life-affirming moment where I felt truly inspired by Eleanor’s story.
Of course, some bits in this book really touched me, but the whole thing just felt a little flat and predictable. While Eleanor’s character was funny, and her relationship with Raymond was brilliant to read, everyone else just seemed a bit flat, and not rounded as characters, and the storyline didn’t deliver as much as I thought it would.
That said, overall I enjoyed reading this book. I don’t think it quite lived up to all the hype that it was given, but it was nevertheless an honest and interesting story, and the character of Eleanor Oliphant was so interesting and inspiring. I have never come across a character quite like Eleanor in a book before, and I loved the way Honeyman made her come out of her shell, and embrace life.
What do you think of my review of ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman? What did you think of it? Would you give it a go in the future?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Happy reading x
Picture credits here