Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
"These days, loneliness is the new cancer - a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don't want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them."
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was one of the big books of 2017 that I was hesitant to pick it up, even though I bought it last fall. Sometimes when I see everyone talking about a book on Instagram or hearing about it on podcasts, it makes me want to wait a little so the hype can die down and I can go in somewhat blind. This is Gail Honeyman’s debut novel, and boy, did she knock it out of the park. Eleanor is a socially awkward thirty-year-old who had something horrible happen in her past. She has worked at the same office job for eight years and is completely fine with the way her life is. She goes to work, comes home, reads a book, and will have her vodka on the weekends. But that all changes when she and her new co-worker Raymond witness an elderly man fall and hit his head.
I will admit this was a little slow for me at first. Eleanor’s behavior took a little while to adjust, but once I warmed up to her, I couldn’t help but root for her. I kept thinking, oh Eleanor, honey, you need a hug and some friendly human interaction. And Raymond fits that bill. He is the new IT guy at her office, and because they witness Sammy’s fall, they end up embarking on Eleanor’s first real friendship. Raymond is the first person that has genuinely cared for Eleanor; I adored their friendship. Eleanor always thought that Raymond was a bit of a slob, but she eventually grows to find his habits endearing.
The things that happened in Eleanor’s past are a huge part of why she is the way she is. I don’t want to give anything away, but I found myself wanting to be in Eleanor’s life. She desperately needed someone to care for her and give her some guidance. Raymond invites Eleanor to visit his mother with him one Sunday, and Mrs. Gibbons showed such kindness to Eleanor that she didn't know how to react. Luckily through her friendship with Raymond and her interactions with Sammy's family, Eleanor begins to discover how others operate in the world and that it might be better to let people in.
For as long as Eleanor can remember, she has never had any reason to change her routine or appearance. But when she sees a musician at a concert, she is instantly drawn to him. She begins to change her appearance. She goes and buys new clothes, gets her hair and makeup done, and starts going to pubs and concerts. She also even sees the musician at Tesco and decides to see if she can figure out which flat is his. Bless, Eleanor, bless. She does not really understand the societal norms of crushing on someone. Surely, it does not include stalking the guy. But it does seems to pull Eleanor out of her isolated life. She begins to actually interact with others and learns about herself and others in the process. When Raymond suggests the two of them go visit Sammy in the hospital, Eleanor is initially baffled. She does not know Sammy, but once they go and actually meet him and his family, Eleanor finds herself with several new friends and even a few party invitations.
I loved Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I know it’s early in the year, but I know this one will be on my favorites of 2018. It is so well-written and incredibly moving. You are completely invested in Eleanor’s life and only want the best for her. I give it 5 stars!
What did you think of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine?