Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman
Published: May 9th 2017 by Viking – Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: Fiction, contemporary, adult
“I’m a sole survivor – I’m Eleanor Oliphant. I don’t need anyone else – there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I am a self-contained entity.”
Sure, she’s completely fine! Just as fine as everyone else that says they’re fine. Which usually isn’t fine at all. It’s more of a self hypnotizing mantra so that you’ll think you’re fine.
Eleanor Oliphant works a 9-5 office job that she goes to five days a week and on fridays after work she goes off to buy her regular two pizzas and two bottles of vodka, only to go home alone for the weekend.
She’s 29 and still her life resembles that of an elderly woman with no living relatives or friends. It’s the loneliest existence I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. And in the time of the internet, where we can simulate being “in touch” with the world, Eleanor reminds us of what it means to be lonely in a simpler way.
Eleanor has her quirks and habits and a way of looking at things that I would like to say is slightly out of the ordinary, but it also just might be more honest. She doesn’t filter her thoughts, she simply speaks her mind, which of course is veiled by delusion in many ways.
One day her planet shifts slightly off orbit and from there, everything changes. She finds herself in new social situations from which there is no proper way to retract. She starts losing track of her habits and starts enjoying the turn her life is taking.
And while this book is about Eleanor, it has a mystery component to it and even a slight romantic interest. However, the book steers away from the clishés and happy endings. It allows the book to be about Eleanor, without having to fix her, or save her. It’s a work in progress, as we all are, it’s not a happy ending, because it’s not ending. I imagine Eleanor going on with her life and still working out some kinks even after I stop reading.
I was thoroughly surprised when I heard this was a debut novel, I don’t think I’ve ever read a better debut, with effortless language that flows so easily you don’t even think about it. The plot is so cleverly laid out that you wouldn’t mind if there was one or not.
It touches some real, deep, dark topics, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t hilarious. It is. It’s absolutely endearing and so funny I think I snorted a few times. It’s hands down one of the best books I’ve read all year, and this character will stay with me, like a lingering presence of a good friend when you’re feeling alone.