Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor OliphantGail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a savagely funny and heartrendingly devastating novel about the survivor of a childhood trauma.

Eleanor Oliphant is a recluse. She lives in solitude, on purpose, isolating herself from the rest of the world unless absolutely necessary. Which means she toils away in an office five days a week, and doesn’t partake in the pleasantries and social norms one would expect. Eleanor spends her evenings and weekends alone with crossword puzzles, pizza and booze. She’s not just socially awkward; she’s socially blunted because of a  mysterious event in her childhood that left her face badly scarred. So warped is her perspective, she develops an obsessive crush on a musician, and the book’s opening act focuses on her quest to meet him, and ultimately make him realise their destiny is entwined.

Readers will laugh at, and with Eleanor, as she tries to navigate our strangely emotional, non-literal world, learning how to interact with society. Her observations are truly laugh-out-loud funny. But you’ll cringe, too, as she makes catastrophic errors and faux pas that make her the butt of jokes. Thank goodness for Raymond, then; a goofy guy from her work’s IT department, whose friendship becomes an important step towards normalcy. The question that drives the novel is simply, Is Eleanor too damaged, too emotionally stunted, to ever blend in seamlessly with the rest of us? And the book’s important question: why should any of us feel the need to be one with the crowd? What’s wrong with standing separately and truly allowing our own distinct personalities to shine?

I discovered Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine through word of mouth, and must thank several customers at Potts Point Bookshop for bringing it to my attention. It reminded me of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, but a little edgier, more willing to explore the dark. Gail Honeyman’s an author to watch; her next book will be a must-buy.

ISBN: 9780008172114
Format: Hardback (227mm x 159mm x 36mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 18-May-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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