Book #65

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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 ever weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything.

Eleanor is one of the most wonderful characters I’ve met in a long time. A frustrating, irritating, blunt, and entirely socially inept person, her story is an important one which allows us to forgive all of her flaws, and embrace her as a diverse and unintentionally hilarious heroine.

She’s fine with her rarely altered routine. She’s fine with her offhand, unfiltered comments, and fine with the odd looks these garner from colleagues. She is fine with having no real friends, and no real social life. She’s fine with her weekend consisting of nothing more than drinking two bottles of vodka. She is absolutely fine.

Navigating the world alongside someone who has experienced trauma, someone who is acutely unaware of social cues and niceties, is something quite special in a number of ways. Honeyman gives us Eleanor’s attempts to blend in as comedy - we laugh alongside her as she quietly scorns the process of a manicure, or delivers a cutting, brutally honest comment to a colleague. But there’s a quiet, sad side to all of this too; something has made her this way, and the reactions of others to Eleanor’s personality aren’t always friendly and welcoming. There’s a true feeling of loneliness and isolation which isn’t comfortable, but which makes Eleanor all the more endearing to me.

There are some really dark moments peppered alongside gorgeous acts of human kindness, and I wonder at Honeyman’s skill of replicating the reality of darkness and light within this novel.

A stunning debut, and I’m sure I’m not in the minority when I ask the universe for more Eleanor.