Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

This book is everywhere – I think ReeseWitherspoon is going to make it into a movie – so I finally sucombed and bought a copy while we were in Sydney.

It reminded me of a dark version of the Rosie Project – here’s the blurb …

Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open her heart

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

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.

There were some laugh out loud moments, which is a good thing because clearly something bad had happened to Eleanor. Although, I felt the laughs were a bit easy on the part of the author (just playing off Eleanor’s autism/aspergers?).

Despite Eleanor’s unpleasantness we do warm to her and want the best for her, which I think is a credit to Ms Honeyman. It is quite an achievement to create a sympathy for an unpleasant character. This is a novel about human connection and kindness and trauma (or more particularly recovering from trauma), but it has a light touch and leaves us feeling hopeful for Eleanor’s future and for all of our futures – it is not too late to make connections and live happily in the world.

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