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REVIEW: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by gail honeyman

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

I am so excited to finally be sat down and able to talk about this book! I didn’t really know what to expect going into the novel as the blurb doesn’t give much away(mainly because it is so character-driven, hence the title, duh). However, I loved every single second I spent with this book, and it definitely made it to one of my top favourite reads of this year!

Honeyman's novel is about societal outcast, Eleanor Oliphant, who leads a structured and pretty mundane life with her office job and lack of social interactions. We meet Eleanor at an important time, just before her life begins to change with a series of seemingly ordinary events. We join Eleanor in navigating through new experiences of making friends, finding love, and discovering herself and her past.

My favourite thing about the book was how the tale slowly unravels, leaving tiny breadcrumbs along the way for us to follow, refusing to reveal all until the last chapter. I found this writing style perfect for the storyline, causing the reader to discover things with Eleanor, rather than have any superior position. One of the main gems of this entire book was the absolute sweetheart that is Raymond (!!!). Due to the book being an unraveller, Honeyman refuses to make things-black-and-white, making events and people lack in initial significance, which I found so incredibly refreshing as I didn't immediately root for certain orchestrated situations - I love a good unexpected romance story. Raymond was a slow-burning character in the best of ways and an overall lovely human.

I had a similar experience with warming up to the character of Eleanor. However, her significance is clearly highlighted from the get-go, so I was so frustrated that I initially found her very hard to connect with. I couldn’t relate to her. Like, at all. Her voice is so removed from mine that I found it jarring, being almost like an elderly person stuck in a young woman's body (like who the heck even uses the word 'jerkin' in this century?). However, the more that I got to know and understand her through her experiences, the more relatable she became as she unravels to be a unique and loveable person, and her voice began to make complete sense for her character.

Mental health is actually a huge part of the novel in a very nuanced manner, teaching the importance of kindness as everyone is fighting their own battle. I loved how the story was structured in ‘good days’, ‘bad days’ and ‘better days’, showing the behind-the-scenes of the so-called ‘good days’ described at the beginning. This raw and unfiltered version of events made Eleanor much easier to like, becoming more human than the seemingly unfeeling, independent woman portrayed at the start. The book definitely made me teary-eyed throughout (yes, I cried on the train), but the ending was so lovely and left me wanting more. We were able to dip into her life when it began to change and yet left her to live it. Please can we have a sequel?

Favourite quotes:

  • Raymond: ‘She said I was too nice. What exactly am I meant to do with that? I mean…become more of a bastard? (nice guys ALWAYS win, by the way)

  • The entire scene in Starbucks! I love when authors do this, put their characters in everyday situations and see how they would react. Very good writing.

  • Eleanor: ‘There are scars on my heart, just as thick, as disfigured as those on my face. I know they’re there. I hope some undamaged tissue remains, a patch through which love can come in and flow out’

  • Eleanor: 'I picked up my shopper, fastened my jerkin, and turned towards home.’ A lovely last line that perfectly summarises her! She goes from this totally unrelatable character who seems rather strange (she uses a shopper, like, really??) but the ending is like 'YES' you go girl.

To summarise: GO. READ. THIS. BOOK. (pls)

See you next time, lovelies!

Kate x

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