'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of a quirky yet lonely woman whose social misunderstandings and deeply ingrained routines could be changed forever—if she can bear to confront the secrets she has avoided all her life. But if she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.'
Eleanor Oliphant is unusual. As you are reading the novel, it becomes apparent that Eleanor is not your usual protagonist. At first it took me a while to get used to her quirks and the way she talks to people - I did at one point think she came across as rude. However, once you get used to her and realise that this is all she is used to and Eleanor isn’t aware how she comes across, you get used to her. She eventually becomes so endearing you cant help but laugh at the things she says. Eleanor is actually hilarious, "“LOL could go and take a running jump. I wasn’t made for illiteracy; it simply didn’t come naturally.”
A particularly heart-warming bit is at the salon with Laura, in which Eleanor thanks her for ‘making her shiny’. If you don’t at least well up a little, you may be heartless. The narrative of Eleanor is simultaneously filled with unspoken sadness but a warmth and a routine. She is methodical in her actions. The character of Eleanor feels real, as if she is an old friend, this book makes you not want to judge anyone ever again, you never know why people act the way they do, or what is going on behind closed doors. Eleanor works all week, waits until Friday where she gets a Tesco Pizza and drinks a litre of vodka, this is her crutch.
Through the course of the novel, we eventually begin to untangle the trauma that made Eleanor as she is. Beginning with her mum and an incident when she was younger. Through prevailing counselling sessions during the ‘bad days’, Eleanor eventually opens up and we see why she is how she is today. If anything it moves you, just serves to make Eleanor more realistic and relatable, as well as moving the narrative along.
Ultimately I started reading the novel, and thought I might not finish it due to the sadness I felt emanated from Eleanor. Upon finishing the novel, I didn’t want to let go of her. I sincerely hope there is a second novel, I feel like Eleanor’s story is far from over. Eleanor’s happy ending happened, not in the way one might expect, but in a way that felt raw and was highly enjoyable. The main message from the novel I got was a feeling of hope and that there is a happy ending for all of us, albeit it might not be what you expect, but there is hope. Through the poignant prose and dialogue we get a gritty, not well-rounded main protagonist, a ‘warts and all’ type of character and Eleanor definitely fits the bill.
I highly recommend Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, with so few characters, to not only make it interesting enough to keep us as the reader entertained, but to also move along the story seamlessly, shows and gives credit to Gail Honeyman’s skill as a debut author.