Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published by Penguin on May 9, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Women, Literary, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 336
Goodreads
five-stars

No. She’s not.

I think that’s ok. I think it’s ok to not be fine, but the lame, standard response to “how are you?” is, “fine”, “good”, “ok”. All smiles. When actually no one is fine or good or ok all of the time and we are all afraid to say it. God forbid we feel it.

I really love Eleanor. Yes, I hated the way she called her mother “mummy” throughout the whole thing. Yes, her prim and proper facade was irritating. But she’s just so perfect because Eleanor is completely herself most of the time. She’s not her vulnerable self, because that’s scary, but she is her imperfect self perfectly.

I know some people don’t like this book, haven’t got into it, but I’ll tell you a secret. The book is actually about trauma and a lot of it. At times Eleanor is just eccentric, amazingly interesting and funny, but it’s much more and much darker than that. Lucky I fell in love with this woman quickly. The love affair enabled me to keep reading and I was very happy I did.

Unfortunately, I gave my copy to the goddamn street library before writing this (foooooooolish) and I had pages earmarked that I wanted to discuss. Pffft. I’m an amateur book reviewer and right now it shows.

I can’t forget the general gist of what I wanted to write about though. I wanted to write about her loneliness. It is all encompassing. I don’t think she knows it is, for much of the book, but it is there like another character. Tick tock of the clock in a quiet room. It’s there and it is possibly the most accurate depiction of loneliness I’ve ever read. Shit. I need my copy of the book back. Or any copy. Hang on a tick.

“When the silence and the aloneness press down and around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes, if only for proof of life.”

There it is. I’m going to have to re- read this book because there are moments that are like gold. I read an interview with the author a while back (see? research) and she said that she said something about this idea that people can spend an entire weekend not talking to anyone. She said she thought this only happened to old people. Pffttt. Come on now Gail.

I had a lot of smiles while reading this book too. Particularly at Eleanor’s experience of having a visit from a social worker. Where this gem occurred:

“I assume that it’s part of the job, checking to make sure that I’m not storing my own urine in demijohns or kidnapping magpies and sewing them into pillowcases.”

That one was a laugh out loud on the train moment actually.

and then this…

“Well, I haven’t become aware of any additional support needs, and I’m fully integrated into the community, June,” I said.”

For much of the book I could hear Eleanor’s voice as I read. I cried for her, I was happy for her, frustrated at her. Eleanor had me feeling every emotion possible. Her and her alone. I know someone is making this movie, but I tell you, I don’t know if an actress can do this character justice. I may eat my words. I may be surprised. I doubt it though. Eleanor is a character I don’t want anyone messing with. I’m quite protective of her.

Ok, one more thing before I go. I could write all day about this book and it’s not even a thriller! I love the hint at romance. No fluffy, cringe worthy stuff. It felt real. It was refreshing. The focus was on friendships and I really like that.

It’s the authors debut novel and not gonna lie, I expect even more greatness in the future.

five-stars

About Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine won the Costa First Novel Award and the British Book Awards Book of the Year, was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize, the Desmond Elliot Award, and the Author’s Club Best First Novel, and was long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is Honeyman’s debut novel and she lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

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