Review: Eleanor Olyphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant may think she’s completely fine. But spend a few pages with her and you’ll find out that she’s not quite as fine as she thinks she is.

Eleanor wants for nothing physically. Her regular job provides a steady income that allows her to provide for the basic human necessities as well as a few extras. For example, enough vodka to pass the hours of her weekend until it’s time to go back to work again. She has her weekly conversations with her Mummy and she looks forward to certain documentary programs on the radio or television.

Yes, Eleanor is doing just fine, thank you.

Except she’s not really. Emotionally distant from herself and those around her (at one point, Eleanor points out that her foster child upbringing taught her to stop “wanting” things that weren’t vital to her survival), Eleanor has finally found the man of her dreams. He’s the singer for an up and coming band and while the two haven’t met, Eleanor just knows that once they meet, it will be love at first sight and things will start being more than just “fine.”

As she attempts to make herself ready to meet the man of her dreams, Eleanor makes a few timid steps into friendship with people she actually interacts with, including Raymond from IT.

Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is funny, enduring, dark and unpredictable. Novels with narrators finding social norms and conventions strange and off-putting aren’t necessarily a new thing. But in Eleanor, Honeyman has created a character who not only stands out but is extremely memorable. Eleanor’s story is raw, genuine and utterly readable. There may be times you want to turn away because of the things Eleanor is confessing to us, but each component makes her living, breathing character in a way that many novels might miss. The fact that Honeyman manages to do all this without following pre-conceived conventions is an added bonus.

Like many of us, Eleanor has highs, lows and lots of moments in between. It’s in all these moments that we’re treated to a memorable character. And it’s one that I’m of two minds about whether or not I’d like to hear more from. I’d be happy to spend more time with her and see how her journey continues. But Honeyman makes this portion of Eleanor’s journey complete so that I’m completely satisfied if this is the only time I hear from Eleanor.

There’s been a lot of buzz around this book and I’ve got to say all of it is earned. Eleanor Olyphant set off a bidding war among publishers with the winner being those of us who get to read about her. One of the best novels I’ve read this year, Eleanor Olymphant is Completely Fine</i> is an unpredictable page-turner that will not only have you rooting for her but also caring about her and thinking about her even after the final page is turned.

Highly recommended.

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