Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I don’t usually write book reviews, but then again it’s not often that I come across a book worthy of writing a review about! However, when I picked up Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine in Morrisons two weeks ago, I knew that I had to share a review of it with you!

I read the book in just five days, and I have to say that this book has restored my love of reading.

There’s something quite wonderful about holding an actual book in your hands. The weight of it, the smell, the feel of the paper, nothing beats it!

I do have a Kindle e-reader, but I’ve found myself wanting to go back to physical books recently. My book shelf looks rather empty, so I’ve decided to resort back to buying actual books that can actually sit on my book shelf!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is Gail Honeyman’s debut novel. It won the Costa First Novel Award 2017, and was chosen as one of the Observer’s debuts of the Year for 2017. In addition, Gail was also awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award in 2014, and has been long listed for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, as well as being shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

This number one Sunday Times Bestseller has also sold the translation rights to over thirty territories worldwide, and Reese Witherspoon’s company, Hello Sunshine, has set up to produce Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which will be a potential star vehicle for the Oscar-winning actress.

So what’s it all about?

The back cover reads as follows:

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life.

She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. 

Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything…

At 400 pages long, this book is split into three sections: Good Days, Bad Days and Better Days. There are 41 chapters, and each one of them gives us more and more insight into Eleanor’s life.

The first few chapters give us a nice introduction to Eleanor. We learn about what she does for a living, how old she is, and more importantly we can start to slowly put together a picture of Eleanor.

She’s very habitual, doesn’t care much for the social side of life, doesn’t have any friends, and in generally she’s happy being an independent woman, albeit alone.

Eleanor very much lives in her own world, and rarely appears to let anyone other than professionals such as doctors into her life. She’s not into technology. She doesn’t own a phone or laptop, instead she prefers to listen to the radio or read books.

Eleanor is very organised and likes to plan things in advance. She comes across as very intelligent and meticulous, yet also very naive about the world, people and most definitely about how to socialise.

Throughout the book we learn small snippets about Eleanor’s past. The one relationship that she does have in her life is with her mother. However, the only contact Eleanor has with her mother is via regular phone calls every Wednesday evening.

She doesn’t ever meet her in person because she can’t due to where her mother is. At this point in the book, we don’t know where Eleanor’s mother is, nor why they only speak once a week, but it becomes clear that Eleanor’s problems lay with her mother.

As we follow Eleanor’s every day life, we discover that a chance meeting with a new work colleague, turns into a relationship that will not only change Eleanor’s life for the better, but also helps to bring her out of her shell.

Finding herself out of her normal comfort zones, Eleanor realises that it actually feels good to do nice things and kind gestures for others. This leads to Eleanor meeting new people, and addressing issues from her past that have been holding her back.

Also during the book, Eleanor comes across a man who she’s sure is ‘The One’. She sets about starting a ‘project’ to make herself attractive to him. Convinced that they’re destined to be together, Eleanor changes a number of things about herself in order to bag her man. However, there’s one problem. She’s never actually met this man, and with Eleanor’s lack of social skills, you can’t help but fall in love with her endearing charm, and naive ways.

This book is filled with sadness, kindness, love and at times I was left feeling overwhelmingly sad for Eleanor.

Gail Honeyman does a wonderful job at telling Eleanor’s story. It’s a truly, beautifully written book that you simply must read!


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