Book By My Bedside: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine // Gail Honeyman


Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

What I Think So Far: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine empty, lonely and a total outsider.

Thirty-year-old Eleanor lives alone, works in a busy office, rarely engages with her co-workers and spends her weekends drinking two bottles of vodka while speaking to no one at all until Monday morning rolls around. She prefers to be addressed as ‘Miss Oliphant’ rather than by her first name, indulges in fantasy-filled crushes instead of participating in the real world and dutifully tolerates calls from her mother every Wednesday night despite her insulting and degrading nature.

But as she begins to form a friendship with her co-worker Raymond, Eleanor is opened up to new experiences, such as saving a man’s life – an act that gave her an unusually pleasant, warm feeling inside, and something she wouldn’t have thought to do had Raymond not been there too. This friendship sparks a change in Eleanor’s solitary life, as she is encouraged to try new things (including concerts, parties and manicures!) and really starts to see herself. It’s not all easy, but Eleanor takes bold steps to improve her mental health and learns to see the goodness in the world again.

Eleanor’s character develops substantially over the course of the novel, which is interesting to see as a reader. It truly makes it feel as though the story has a goal and a purpose. In this case, the goal is for Eleanor to discover what terrible secrets are hiding in her past, while learning to let go of her mother’s harmful and oppressive influence.

Would I Recommend It?: Absolutely. Initially, I didn’t listen to other people’s recommendations because something about the book didn’t appeal to me. However, I came across Honeyman’s novel again when I was browsing on my kindle a few weeks ago and this time something about the book spoke to me. I knew it was exactly the right time to read it. The story has a heavy focus on mental health and childhood trauma, so had I picked this up when it was first published in 2017, I probably wouldn’t have made it through its entirety. However, as I read it now, while being in a good place personally and mentally, I find myself able to enjoy watching Eleanor grow, develop and learn from her struggles.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was easy to get into and the character of Eleanor immediately intrigued me. It truly didn’t take long for me to read – and fall in love with – this book because I just couldn’t put it down. If you love realistic and emotional stories, you’ll love Eleanor Oliphant.

Rating: 9/10

Words by Catriona Mactaggart

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