Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: A Novel by Gail Honeyman

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I cannot believe this is a debut! Wow! Wow! Wow!

The Story:

Eleanor Oliphant has endured a lot of trauma in her life. Now, stop! Don’t run away! This is NOT an Oprah book! I promise. No dead babies. No incest. But very real trauma that is handled in an amazing way.You won’t need therapy after reading it, I promise.

Eleanor lives in the same flat she move to when she started at college, works at the same job she got after college and is now about 30 years old.  She prefers real writing to texting. She eats the same pasta and the same lunch and does the same things all the time.  And one night each week she has a conversation with her mother. Then she meets IT co-worker Raymond.

Eleanor is a classic introverted loner, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need or want love, physical affection, relationships and even a soul mate. It doesn’t mean she won’t or can’t change–or that she needs to change everything. But when anyone spends too much time alone they build up walls around their heart. In Eleanor’s case it is understandable.

Eleanor is a good person, the kind that often gets overlooked. Raymond is the classic good guy. But he’s the kind that often gets overlooked. They are not George and Amal in looks. They are not brilliant or incredibly creative. They are just good, honest people, doing rather boring ordinary jobs in the dull, ordinary, back office of a company that creates image. But when an elderly man needs help, they are the ones on the scene who do the right thing. And go on doing the right thing. And, gradually something amazing happens.

What I Loved:

I loved that all of this was told with grace and humanity and almost no cliches. I loved that there were no magic potions, no waving of magic wands, no white charger. I loved that two ordinary people whose lives nearly any reader can picture and feel, did the right thing and kept on doing it. I love that Eleanor, in spite of everything, kept going. She found solace in earning a very demanding degree. She took pride in her work in a very dull, repetitive, but necessary job. She ignored the looks and the behind-the- hand  comments. If ever #shepersevered applied to a woman, it applied and applies to Eleanor.

Most of all  I loved that she did something I once had to do–she looked at what others did and adopted what worked regardless of what her family had done. In today’s parlance, she broke the cycle. I cheered her. I wanted to hug her. More people in general need to respond like Eleanor. More people need to be there for others like Eleanor and Raymond were for Sammy. It helps. It costs nothing.

 

 

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing I even-didn’t-sort-of-almost-not-really-like. It’s a great book. I was pleased to see it’s already a big movie deal with Reece Witherspoon (not the one I would have chosen but….)

Now, someone please tell me there will be a sequel. I need a sequel. I’m screaming for a sequel. #Sequelrequired. This is easily one of the best books this year.

 

Lesson: Take the cheese slices.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Susan Honeyman

 

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