Book Review : Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine By Gail Honeyman

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.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting 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.

Another book graduates from my TBR list. And what a book this was! The guilt of leaving it off for so long is huge. I was really surprised by Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. In so many ways! I think that merely talking about the ways I was surprised would cover my overall opinions of the book.

First surprise: I did not find Eleanor endearing from the start. I also didn’t find her irritating or unlikable. Rather, I didn’t know what to make of her. I was simply bemused.

Second surprise: There were no bad guys. Normally, when I read a book about ‘unsocial’ or ‘weird’ main characters, I usually end up disliking the people who the protagonist has to deal with. Here, I found myself feeling sorry for the people Eleanor interacted with. Moreover, it was a sad realization that if she was someone from my office, I’d most probably act exactly the way her colleagues did.

Third surprise: Speaking of interactions, I found Eleanor’s thought process when dealing with people to be so refreshingly funny! The irony in her thinking during most of her conversations that the other person was being rude and unsocial was not lost on me!

Fourth surprise: I’d expected there to be a romance. But there was none. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no love here. The relationship, or rather the friendship between Raymond and Eleanor was so genuine and I loved how the author developed it.

Fifth surprise: I loved how NOT perfect Raymond was. He wasn’t good looking, had bad habits, was unhygienic, and not at all the kind of guy Eleanor found to be special or to be her type. But at the same time, he’s the quintessential nice guy! I can’t explain how refreshing I found it. The friendship which started as a reluctant acquaintance from Eleanor’s side was heartwarming. These two balanced each other perfectly.

Sixth surprise: I’d been expecting a huge showdown or some embarrassing spectacle that Eleanor would make of herself to bring forth the climax. But there was none of that. The clever way the author transitioned from the good days to the bad days only through Eleanor’s conscience impressed me to no end.

The author thwarted my expectations at every point. The subtlety and care through which the character of Eleanor was handled and the plot twists engineered made me fall in love with the writing. This book made me think about the huge difference just one helping hand can make and how a simple friendship can save us from ourselves. Eleanor Oliphant will stay with me for a long long time. Maybe forever.

My Rating: ★★