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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel…
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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel (original 2017; edition 2018)

by Gail Honeyman (Author)

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2,7122133,254 (4.16)226
Member:JenJSan
Title:Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel
Authors:Gail Honeyman (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2018), Edition: Reprint, 352 pages
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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by Gail Honeyman (2017)

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» See also 226 mentions

English (210)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (213)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
Parts of the book are fine, but I didn't love it. The characters are cartoonish, and the story is cliched. If you read chapter one, the rest of the book follows exactly the tedious line you would expect. Honeyman doesn't take any risks, there are no surprises. ( )
  breic | May 20, 2019 |
"I was fine, perfectly fine on my own, but I needed to keep Mummy happy, keep her calm so she would leave me in peace. A boyfriend—a husband?—might just do the trick. It wasn’t that I needed anyone. I was, as I previously stated, perfectly fine."



Eleanor Oliphant most certainly is not fine.

Unless, maybe, Honeyman has read Louise Penny’s brilliant mysteries, among them “Dead Cold” (also published as “A Fatal Grace”) and actually means FINE (she even uses this term in all-caps herself) which stands for “F’ed up, Insecure, Neurotic and Egotistical”. That’s part of what Eleanor is.

I’ve read this book is about loneliness and, yes, it certainly is but it’s so much more – depression, childhood abuse and recovery.

Eleanor goes to work, trying to avoid any non-essential contact with her co-workers or, in fact, any human being for that matter. She relies completely on her routines (“I sat down and watched television alone, like I do Every. Single. Night.”) and abhors any deviations. Whenever she starts to actually experience feelings, she drowns them in Vodka. Suddenly and by pure chance, Raymond enters her life and Eleanor realises there should be more in life than routine.

This is not a romance, though. It’s not a “funny” book as such either – even though it has plenty of humour.



“After much reflection on the political and sociological aspects of the table, I have realized that I am completely uninterested in food. My preference is for fodder that is cheap, quick and simple to procure and prepare, whilst providing the requisite nutrients to enable a person to stay alive.”



The humour is always laced with Eleanor’s immense pain from which she is hiding; albeit not very successfully because you can’t “escape or undo” your past, nor can you just shed it:



“The past could neither be escaped nor undone. After all these weeks of delusion, I recognized, breathless, the pure, brutal truth of it. I felt despair and nausea mingled inside me, and then that familiar black, black mood came down fast.”



We are all defined by our past; what was done to us by our parents, by siblings, other relatives or other people we love(d). Since none of us are perfect, it follows that everyone will at least make mistakes. I made and still make mistakes raising my kids. I’m just trying to make my mistakes with as much love as possible.

Most of us can deal with what we experienced; some of us – yours truly included – just like Eleanor need help dealing with our past and we must learn to live with ourselves and our demons.

This “universal brokenness” is probably the reason this book is deservedly as popular as it is: We can relate to Eleanor because we at least recognise a few of her “eccentricities”. The consistent way she narrates her own story, her complete, disarming honesty even at the expense of her own dignity at times, makes her human.

The more Eleanor tells us about herself, the more she lets small remarks slip that are revealing with respect to her abusive "Mummy" and the one incident that forever changed her life. The further we get the bolder Eleanor becomes and she gets ready to face the truths she needs to confront to get better and once she’s crossed the Rubicon, there’s no holding her back:

“I was ready. Bring out your dead.”



Until that point, though, it’s a struggle for Eleanor and it was sometimes a struggle for me because I so badly wanted her to get better and at one point, I realised I rooted so much for her I just had to have a happy ending or be crushed.

How can someone survive a mother like Eleanor’s? The conversations with her are written in a way that gave me the creeps; they start out relatively normal, harmless and even – in a few instances – positively...



“You wouldn’t understand, of course, but the bond between a mother and child, it’s . . . how best to describe it . . . unbreakable. The two of us are linked forever, you see—same blood in my veins that’s running through yours.”



… it already started sounding slightly weird here but it quickly escalates much further...



“You grew inside me, your teeth and your tongue and your cervix are all made from my cells, my genes. Who knows what little surprises I left growing inside there for you, which codes I set running? Breast cancer? Alzheimer’s? You’ll just have to wait and see. You were fermenting inside me for all those months, nice and cozy, Eleanor. However hard you try to walk away from that fact, you can’t, darling, you simply can’t. It isn’t possible to destroy a bond that strong.”



Eleanor “fermented" inside her mother – what a horrible thought! And, yes, even such a deprecating bond cannot completely be destroyed. We just have to learn to live with it.

That Eleanor is still a functioning – albeit damaged – human being after all that makes us admire her and her humanity. All the more so as we only learn the entire horrible truth bit by bit (“I was normal-sized and normal-faced (on one side, anyway).”): In her developing companionship with Raymond, Eleanor slowly realises there’s more to life and seeing how she works her way back into a more “normal” life is moving and enjoyable.

It’s never kitschy or soppy because her honesty (and often: bluntness) is very refreshing. Especially due to the fact that she knows full well that she’s not really fine:



“You’re a bit mental, aren’t you?” she said, not in the least aggressively, but slurring her words somewhat. It was hardly the first time I’d heard this. “Yes,” I said, “yes, I suppose I am.”



At other times I wanted to shout at her, e. g. when she decides a random good-looking guy will save her. By means of a partner, she intends to “reassemble”, to reinvent herself and make the “Eleanor pieces” fit – which can’t ever work that way.

You might not like Eleanor, maybe even loathe her for her constant denial, for her “weakness” or maybe you love her for her strength and her ultimate refusal to give up. Either way, you cannot be indifferent to her because she feels completely real. She could be your weird colleague, your rarely-seen neighbour.



All of this combined with Honeyman’s wonderful writing style and the ending that is exactly as it should be won this book a place among my favourites of all time.

Only a few days ago I read “Kaffee und Zigaretten” by Ferdinand von Schirach who wrote in that book “We're looking for the books written for us.”.

I couldn’t agree more.



P.S.: To my Maria: If you ever read this, SvF, please know that I’m deeply grateful for all your help and let me quote Eleanor herself:

“I felt very calm. “Essentially, though, in all the ways that matter . . . I’m fine now. Fine,” I repeated, stressing the word because, at last, it was true.” ( )
  philantrop | May 16, 2019 |
I wish I could give it more stars! I love this book. This is in my top favorite books now. I could not put it down. Every word was perfect. The ending caught me somewhat by surprise but was actually what I hoped for. Ms. Honeyman, I can't wait to read your next novel. ( )
  mharris1227 | May 4, 2019 |
Eleanor Oliphant lives a very proscribed and ordered life: she wears the same outfit every day, eats the same food every day, and on Friday evening she buys a frozen pizza and two bottles of vodka to get her through the weekend. Once a week, she has a phone call with her mother. As long as she doesn't let herself think too much about the traumatic events in her past, such as the fire that left her with a scar on her face, she's fine. Completely fine. Things begin to change for Eleanor after three unrelated events: she attends a concert and develops a crush on a handsome musician, her work computer contracts a virus and must be fixed by scruffy IT guy Raymond, and she and Raymond witness an elderly man have a fall in the street outside their office and come to his aid. Suddenly, Eleanor is having interactions with new people, gaining new perspectives, and starting to come to terms with her past.

I really appreciated the author's light-handed touch with Eleanor's character development. She's clever yet extremely socially inept; I could occasionally (uncomfortably) relate. There's a lovely balance between humor and pathos throughout the book. Though the focus is tightly on Eleanor, many secondary characters have a nice depth to them. I highly recommend this book, particularly the audiobook version, as the narrator conveys the Glaswegian accent beautifully in a way that my imagination would have entirely failed to do.

I read this one for book club, and I think it will provoke some really good discussion, so I'm looking forward to hearing what other members have to say. ( )
  foggidawn | May 3, 2019 |
Quirky and sweet, dark but smart. Slightly suspenseful. A strange mix that works. Main character was hugely likeable and relatable though she was meant to be someone who was inherently neither. ( )
  mmacinnes | Apr 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
From pop-star crushes to meals for one, the life of an outsider is vividly captured in this joyful debut, discovered through a writing competition and sold for huge sums worldwide...And what a joy it is. The central character of Eleanor feels instantly and insistently real...This is a narrative full of quiet warmth and deep and unspoken sadness. It makes you want to throw a party and invite everyone you know and give them a hug, even that person at work everyone thinks is a bit weird.
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gail Honeymanprimary authorall editionscalculated
McCarron, CathleenNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aguilar, Julia OsunaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Audio, LübbeVerlagsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Audio, PenguinPublishersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Azoulay-Pacvon, AlineTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beretta, S.Traduttoresecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beretta, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giorgio, ElisaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karhulahti, SariKääNtäJä.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Limited, HarperCollins PublishersPublishersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mörk, Ylvasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maire, LauraErzählersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montijn, HienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
SalaniPublishersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my family
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When people ask me what I do - taxi drivers, hairdressers - I tell them I work in an office.
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Sport is a mystery to me. In primary school, sports day was the one day of the year when the less academically gifted students could triumph, winning prizes for jumping fastest in a sack, or running from point A to point B more quickly than their classmates. How they loved to wear those badges on their blazers the next day, as if a silver in the egg and spoon race was some sort of compensation for not understanding how to use an apostrophe.
I have always enjoyed reading, but I've never been sure how to select appropriate material. There are so many books in the world—how do you tell them all apart? How do you know which one will match your tastes and interests? That's why I just pick the first book I see. There's no point trying to choose. The covers are of very little help, because they always say only good things, and I've found out to my cost that they're rarely accurate. "Exhilarating" "Dazzling" "Hilarious." No.
She was shiny too, her skin, her hair, her shoes, her teeth. I hadn't even realized before; I am matte, dull, scuffed.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0735220689, Hardcover)

"Eleanor Oliphant is a truly original literary creation: funny, touching, and unpredictable. Her journey out of dark shadows is absolutely gripping." --Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

"Deft, compassionate and deeply moving--Honeyman's debut will have you rooting for Eleanor with every turning page." --Paula McClain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun


No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

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. 

But 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.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
 
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 26 Jan 2017 14:40:02 -0500)

"Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open her heart. Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. 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. But 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 kind of friends who rescue each other 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"--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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