An unexpected treasure; this surprisingly touching story is about Eleanor Oliphant, an odd character with traits reminiscent of eccentric and lovable Don Tillman from The Rosie Project and maybe even oddball Ove from A Man Called Ove. In Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, unknown tragic beginnings have shaped Eleanor’s life of monotony, resulting in her being an outcast. Days have been peppered with bouts of depression and have lead to her acceptance of the most basic existence. Socially anxious and at times delusional, Eleanor’s inner struggle shows itself on the outside with an obvious clue; she has a scar on her face…often times the elephant in the room.
Eleanor develops a casual friendship with Raymond, the slightly offensive IT guy at work, and at the same time she has her mind set on a fairy tale future with a musician she has yet to meet. We follow Eleanor as she struggles to understand people and and common communication. Intuition does not come naturally so she is awkward and literal. Eleanor slowly undergoes a transformation; she improves her appearance and begins to communicate more effectively, enjoying her time with Raymond, learning how to participate in life, and ultimately realizing a relationship with the musician is a pipe dream.
Working with a therapist, Eleanor becomes more honest with herself, revealing the horrific tragedy of her youth and its impact on her current life, and opening up doors that have been nailed shut for many years. It will be a long haul to leave all her nightmares behind, but watching Eleanor progress, from a loner living with ghosts of the past, to a participatory member of the community with friends and moments of happiness, was a wonderful and emotional journey. I couldn’t help but love Eleanor and root for her healing and happiness.
With a disturbing past, a quirky and intriguing present, and a most hopeful future, the well written, rich story, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, is one of the literary highlights of my summer! Don’t miss it!
As seen in Goodreads:
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living–and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
About the author:
Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full-time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She lives in Glasgow.