Friday Book Whimsy: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is author Gail Honeyman’s first book, and her debut novel, like her main character, is completely fine.

Eleanor Oliphant is 28 years old. She lives alone in a small apartment and works in an office. She has no friends and limited social skills. She says what she thinks without a filter. Her main activities are drinking too much vodka on weekends and talking to her mother on the telephone once a week or so.

Eleanor’s quiet life is disrupted when she meets Raymond, who is the IT person in her office. He is as kind as he is unkempt and unattractive. They become friends. The friendship is cemented when they help an old man they find unconscious and ill on the street. They take him to a hospital, where his life is saved.

As the novel progresses, the reader learns — little by little — about Eleanor’s completely dysfunctional upbringing. Eleanor, herself, knew little about her past life. As she becomes more comfortable with her friendship with Raymond, she gives him permission to look into her past. What he learns is horrifying.

The reader is kept in the dark as to where Eleanor’s mother actually is. It might be prison. It might be a psychiatric facility. It isn’t until the very end that the reader learns the surprising truth about Eleanor and her mother.

While Eleanor’s past is dark, the novel really isn’t. Eleanor is completely likable, as is Raymond. The novel is sad in places, but laugh out loud funny in other places. I have rarely enjoyed a story or liked a character so well.

The novel was somewhat overlong and this reader felt a bit more editing would have been helpful. Still, I recommend Elearnor Oliphant is Complete Fine wholeheartedly and without reservation. Because she is. Completely fine, that is.

Here is a link to the book.