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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (2017)

by Gail Honeyman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,3423751,466 (4.14)324
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.… (more)
  1. 81
    A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both novels deal with serious issues with a light, humorous touch, which does not detract from the painfulness of the characters' situation.
  2. 10
    The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (PilgrimJess)
    PilgrimJess: Harold Fry is married but still lonely so one day sets off to visit an old flame. Along the way he is offered simple acts of kindness.
  3. 00
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (PilgrimJess)
    PilgrimJess: Like Eleanor Miss Pettigrew has view social skills or friends but one day a new world opens up for her.
  4. 00
    Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (wandering_star)
  5. 00
    The Cactus by Sarah Haywood (olegalCA)
    olegalCA: Both are quirky characters who find out they have more relationships in their lives than they thought they did
  6. 00
    Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Similar in tone, in heart and in compassion for the characters.
  7. 00
    The Misremembered Man by Christina Mckenna (aliklein)
  8. 11
    The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  9. 01
    The Puppet Show by M. W. Craven (KayCliff)

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» See also 324 mentions

English (365)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Latvian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Arabic (1)  All languages (375)
Showing 1-5 of 365 (next | show all)
*This review has some spoilers*

The month of May is about Mental Health Awareness, and as someone who has been battling mental health throughout life, I am always eager to recognise the occasion. This year I am doing so by reading and reviewing Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Of course, Eleanor isn’t fine, and herein lies the façade of wellness that people masquerade behind, and that others are willing to accept in order to keep their own ‘wellness’ properly shielded. What a perfectly fine way to keep everyone teetering on the edge of madness. It’s time to change that, and it starts with honest and unflinching stories like this one.

Eleanor is not an easy woman to admire, as she is judgemental, unabashedly ornery, and wallows in misery. Some might find her downright annoying because of these attributes, but I am rather fond of her because of them. The realness that she exudes is exactly what I would expect of someone having gone through the traumas that she has shouldered, and Honeyman has written a phenomenally accurate portrayal of a broken and abandoned soul, arrested in development, and closed down to human connection.

‘I wasn't good at pretending, that was the thing. After what had happened...given what went on there, I could see no point in being anything other than truthful with the world. I had, literally, nothing left to lose.’

As uncomfortable as her behaviour might be for others, it is her reality that has moulded her, and most would likely carry on the same way if handed her experiences. Do we just cast away and ignore broken people, those who make us feel uneasy? At the very least we shun them socially, thus we’re not reminded of their pain.

Imagine, if you will, living each and every day of your life without a parent that loves you. As sad as it is, a lot of people in the world have a void in place of ONE of their parental figures. Either of the two people charged to love, cherish, and support a child instead have either used, abused, or abandoned them, sometimes all three. But being dealt the double whammy of having two duds for a mom and dad, now, that's a rough ride. Add foster care and no other family to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for the social pariah that is Eleanor.

‘I wondered if that's what it would be like in a family-if you had parents, or a sister, say, who would be there, no matter what.’

Life is full of suffering, and making it in a world that will chew you up even when you've been sent in fortified with a force field of unconditional love is one thing, but what happens to those without a stitch of armour? They become hardened, disconnected, fearful, and live by the mantra, 'I will get them before they get me.' Not a very pleasant way to be, but a harsh reality, nonetheless.

‘I had no one, and it was futile to wish it were otherwise. After all, it was no more than I deserved. And really, I was fine, fine, fine.’

At times you'll see people invalidate the struggle of someone like Eleanor, lambaste them and instruct them that all they need to do is pull up their bootstraps and deal with their childhood issues like it’s just a rite of passage or a hill to climb; besides everyone has problems, right? But when you haven’t a soul that cares for you, how do you know how to care for others, least of all yourself? How do you realise that you are even worth it?

‘I pondered this. Was that what people wanted for their children, for them to be happy? It certainly sounded plausible.’

It has been my experience that it takes just one person to show kindness and affection to someone who has lived a life in survival mode, to make all the difference and set things in motion towards betterment, and for Eleanor, Raymond is that person.

Raymond is a kind and endearing chap that fate has dangled in the path of Eleanor, and not a moment too soon. Although she hasn't the ability to recognise the fortune that their becoming friends afforded her, we the readers are able to see how his lightness of spirit is able to envelop the darkness of Eleanor's heart, and how she slowly evolves into whom she was always meant to be.

Raymond is a saint, that's for certain, as Eleanor undoubtedly tests the limits of his friendship with her quirky, bold, and destructive ways, but because he is a true friend who cares for her unconditionally - something she has never personally experienced before - her fortress of fear and judgement cracks, and she makes a metamorphic shift.

‘Eleanor, I said to myself, sometimes you're too quick to judge people...The voice in my head - my own voice - was actually quite sensible, and rational, I'd begun to realise. It was Mummy's voice that had done all the judging, and encouraged me to do so too. I was getting to quite like my own voice, my own thoughts. I wanted more of them. They made me feel good, calm even. They made me feel like me.’

This novel will tear you down and toss you up, spin you around and leave you coming out dizzy by its surprise ending, but it is so worth the read. Eleanor is mistrusting, damaged, frightened, and unaware of the possibilities that life holds for her, but she is also a survivour and an inspiration. No matter the devastating circumstances that we are made privy to throughout, by the novels conclusion we are left uplifted, cheery, and exalted by a life headed in the right direction. A perfect selection for a discussion about the importance of mental health, and the ways to achieve it.

‘"In the end, what matters is this: I survived." I gave him a very small smile. "I survived, Raymond!" I said, knowing that I was both lucky and unlucky, and grateful for it.’

To see the bookmark that Eleanor inspired me to make, please visit my blog post for this review at https://peachybooks.ca/2021/05/29/review-eleanor-oliphant-is-completely-fine-by-... ( )
  PeachyBooksCA | Jun 9, 2021 |
A big, 5-stars! I find the character of Eleanor Oliphant unforgettable. Her views on life were so factual & tragically funny, and as she found her voice, her inner strength, and created powerful bonds with people, (and Glen), I found myself cheering for her. Her life experience and how she dealt with her past was touching, inspirational, sad, and at the same time funny, and I admired the characters that entered her life, especially Raymond, for showing her kindness, support, and love. I found these characters to be representative of the good side of human nature that I hope (and believe) most people possess. I won't spoil it but for those of you who haven't read the book...but for those of you who have: at first, I thought I knew the truth about her mother - and then I was surprised by what I thought was 'the truth' - and then, my original thoughts on the truth turned out to be true :) In short, fantastic book, outstanding writer and I highly recommend. ( )
  TenkaraSmart | Jun 8, 2021 |
This book is better than okay, but I can’t say that I really liked it. I almost packed it in in less than 30 pages. I didn’t much care for Eleanor although I grew to like, or at least accept, her character by the end of the story. For me, this was NOT a page-turner. A lot of parts I found funny, like:

"There is no such thing as hell, of course, but if there was, then the sound track to the screaming, the pitchfork action and the infernal wailing of damned souls would be a looped medley of 'show tunes' drawn from the annals of musical theater. The complete oeuvre of Lloyd Webber and Rice would be performed, without breaks, on a stage inside the fiery pit, and an audience of sinners would be forced to watch—and listen—for eternity."

Yep, show tunes and other musicals deserve their own special place in hell. I can relate to that.

And another:

"I was in a fast-food restaurant for the first time in my adult life, an enormous and garish place just around the corner from the music venue. It was mystifyingly, inexplicably busy. I wondered why humans would willingly queue at a counter to request processed food, then carry it to a table which was not even set, and then eat it from the paper? Afterward, despite having paid for it, the customers themselves are responsible for clearing away the detritus. Very strange.

After some contemplation, I had opted for a square of indeterminate white fish, which was coated in bread crumbs and deep fried and then inserted between an overly sweet bread bun, accompanied, bizarrely, by a processed cheese slice, a limp lettuce leaf and some salty, tangy white slime which bordered on obscenity. Despite Mummy’s best efforts, I am no epicure; however, surely it is a culinary truth universally acknowledged that fish and cheese do not go together? Someone really ought to tell Mr. McDonald. There was nothing to tempt me from the choice of desserts, so I opted instead for a coffee, which was bitter and lukewarm. Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor! I said to myself, laughing quietly. I began to suspect that Mr. McDonald was a very foolish man indeed, although, judging from the undiminished queue, a wealthy one."

The strength of this book was in its writing. But as Raymond says in one part of the story, everyone has problems. This is true. Everyone has problems so I personally do not care to read a novel about a person whose entire existence is one long, on-going problem. I am in no way drawn to individuals who are insanely dysfunctional.

And as Eleanor is hypercritical of others, I am hypercritical of people who lack self-awareness. I don’t really care for people who “find themselves” at some later stage in life. I like people who were never lost in the first place. I’d like to read more of Gail Honeyman because the writing is superb, but I’m afraid - in advance - that I might not like what I find inside if I do. ( )
  Picathartes | Jun 1, 2021 |
Really good
  AngelaBarrett | May 16, 2021 |
Eleanor got on my nerves a bit at the beginning. She reminds me of a roommate I had—all the boys were crazy about her because she was quirky and charming and had a stubbornly narrow view of the world, but living with her quirks made life frustrating at times for her roommates. (But I digress.) But as I got deeper into Eleanor's story, I found her more relatable than I was really comfortable with, and then I just wanted to hug her. Having finished it, I have nothing but wonderful feelings about this book. It's full of heart and charm. Really glad I finally got my hands on this. (It was on hold at the library forever.) ( )
  AngelClaw | May 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 365 (next | show all)
The human need for connection, initially scorned by Eleanor, is this heart-rending novel’s central theme. Eleanor Oliphant is most definitely not completely fine, but she is one of the most unusual and thought-provoking heroines of recent contemporary fiction.
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.
added by SimoneA | editThe Guardian, Jenny Colgan (May 4, 2017)

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gail Honeymanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aguilar, Julia OsunaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Audio, LübbeVerlagsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Audio, PenguinPublishersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Azoulay-Pacvon, AlineTraductionsecondary 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
McCarron, CathleenNarratorsecondary 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.
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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Wikipedia in English


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.

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Book description
Haiku summary
You laugh and you cry
as Eleanor learns how to
start living her life.

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