Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Debut Sunday Times Bestseller and Costa First Novel Book Award winner 2017 Paperback – 25 Jan 2018
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‘A truly original literary creation: funny, touching and unpredictable. Her journey out of the shadows is expertly woven and absolutely gripping’ Jojo Moyes
‘Original [and] unexpectedly funny’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘As perceptive and wise as it is funny and endearing… Warm, funny and thought-provoking’ OBSERVER
‘A narrative full of quiet warmth and deep and unspoken sadness… Wonderful and joyful’ Jenny Colgan, GUARDIAN
‘Unforgettable, brilliant, funny and life-affirming’ Wendy Holden, DAILY MAIL
‘I adored it. Skilled, perceptive, Eleanor's world will feel familiar to you from the very first page. An outstanding debut!’ Joanna Cannon
‘Hugely original, a funny and sad tale of a survivor who tackles the challenges of emotional reconnection with grave courage. Unmissable.’ SUNDAY EXPRESS
‘A truly original voice and so good on loneliness: I sobbed and sobbed’ Cathy Rentzenbrink
‘An outstanding debut about loneliness and the power of a little kindness’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘So powerful – I completely loved Eleanor Oliphant’ Fiona Barton
‘An absolute joy, laugh-out-loud funny but deeply moving’ DAILY EXPRESS
‘Heartbreaking’ Bryony Gordon
‘Deft, compassionate and moving’ Paula McLain
‘Heartwrenching and wonderful’ Nina Stibbe
‘Heartbreaking and heartwarming’ STYLIST
‘Brave, smart and funny… the most refreshing and heartwarming debut I’ve read in some time’ YORKSHIRE POST
‘Moving, funny and devastating’ THE HERALD
‘Quirky, witty and absorbing’ HEAT
‘Warm and funny, moving and deeply original, Eleanor Oliphant is completely marvellous’ Gavin Extence
‘A beautiful and delicate balance between funny and heartbreaking… restores your faith in humanity’ RED
‘You’ll laugh and cry reading this fine debut’ PRIMA
‘Impeccable’ Dawn O’Porter
‘Delightful, dark and moving’ Sarah Pinborough
‘Warm, quirky and fun, with a real poignancy underneath’ Julie Cohen
‘A stunning debut! I laughed, wept and reflected’ Lucy Clarke
‘Satisfyingly quirky’ NEW YORK TIMES
From the Inside Flap
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive - but not how to live
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 every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted - while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she's avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than... fine?
An astonishing story that powerfully depicts the loneliness of life, and the simple power of a little kindness
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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine follows the story of Eleanor Oliphant, a thirty-year-old woman living a very simple life alone in Glasgow. She’s worked at the same company for several years, wears the same clothes and has the same routine. The story follows Eleanor’s transformation as she discovers what’s she’s been missing all this time whilst also attempting to let go of her past.
I must admit, I was sceptical going into this novel because of all the hype it has been receiving and because most hyped-up books I read seem to leave me disappointed or unsatisfied. However, this book was an exception. EOICF makes for such a unique and wonderful reading experience. It isn’t exactly the kind of book I typically reach for but I am so glad I decided to give this one a go. It explores so many important issues such as loneliness, grief and kindness. I found it deeply thought-provoking and I loved the experience of wanting to cry one second and then suddenly wanting to laugh by the next sentence. It is truly a work of genius that deserves all the hype it receives and I hope as many people read it as physically possible.
The best part of this book was certainly the use of character and narrative voice. Eleanor is such a fascinating and eccentric character; everything about her is so unique and unusual. The majority of the book is basically told through Eleanor’s internal monologue which consists of her thoughts, feeling and opinions based on the observations she makes. In many ways, it resembled a kind of sociological experiment or a scientific study of chimps. I loved being inside Eleanor’s head, it was like seeing the world in a completely different way. The way she analyses the absurdity of contemporary human etiquette frequently made me grin like an idiot. In many ways, it also reminded me of reading from the mind of a child where everything is all so new and peculiar. Her voice was so refreshingly different from any other first-person-narrative I’ve ever read. Gale Honeyman has completely transformed what it is to write a novel from this perspective. Not only this, but Eleanor’s character was so precisely and intricately designed. I feel like I know everything about Eleanor, from her drinking habits to her crossword habits. She’s a walking contradiction: absurdly loveable, chaotically organised and perfectly damaged. She made me laugh and she made me tear up, I feel as though I got to know Eleanor so well throughout the book and was genuinely sad to let her go as I turned the last page.
One of the key themes in this book is the portrayal of loneliness. Eleanor has no one at the beginning of this book: no one who cares about her, no one she can talk to, no one she can love. She is a survivor of an unfortunate past and as a result she is left disconnected from reality. It was heart-wrenching to read about Eleanor’s situation, and indeed, the situation of many just like her in real life. I think we often assume loneliness only relates to the older generations when in fact loneliness is as much as an issue with younger adults. I thought Eleanor’s tale was really eye opening to these issues. Like many of Eleanor’s colleagues and acquaintances, I think we are all somewhat guilty of being ignorant of others’ situations. Or more importantly, we have become oblivious to the power of kindness. This book beautifully illustrates the effect that very small acts of kindness can have on the people who need it most. I really hope that this book can make other people more aware of this in the same way it has made me think about how I impact others. I love that Eleanor’s story possesses the power to bring about so much positive change in the world.
I thought the use of plot was also very effective. I liked how the book is split into sections labelled ‘Good Days’, ‘Bad Days’ and ‘Better Days’. In many ways, I think this reflects life in general, we have good days, we have bad days, and, despite the very worst of days, we also have better days. The tone of the story is very much told through these sections and I really liked this shift in tone and how it structured the novel as a whole. I liked the build up from the beginning, I thought it was a good introduction to Eleanor and her life but at the same time her past is always a mystery and a source of anticipation to be revealed. I liked seeing the development of Eleanor as she changes and develops one small step at a time. I loved seeing her relationships between the other characters deepen and blossom throughout the story. Although not a lot appears to go on throughout the story, I wanted to savour every detail. I wouldn’t say this is a fast paced-action sort of novel, but rather an intricate tour of the brain of a unique and fascinating individual. I also thought Gale Honeyman perfectly balances the readers emotions. It wasn’t too sad, but it wasn’t too happy. Just when I thought I was about to cry I’d find myself smiling, but equally, if I was laughing I’d soon have my heart-strings plucked. But most of all, this story gave me hope for ‘the better days’ even when it feels like things can’t get any better. After all, life is just a roller coaster, so we may as well enjoy the ride before it’s our time to leave.
Overall, I absolutely loved reading EOICF. It’s so different from anything I’ve ever read before and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. The writing is stunning, I loved every bit. I highly recommend to absolutely everyone, especially if you love reading something both thought-provoking as well as uplifting. We all need this book.
There is always a worry with a much-hyped book that it won’t quite live up to expectations (so disappointing when this happens) and I did start reading with some slight trepidation. I needn’t have worried though as I absolutely adored Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine from the very first page.
This book reminded me in some ways to A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion as these books also feature a protagonist who is socially awkward but I really think that Gail Honeyman’s novel has so much more depth and compassion. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a wonderful novel which, through its strong characterisation and powerful storytelling drew me in to Eleanor’s world. We meet her when she is working for a design agency filled with cool, hip people and is the butt of their jokes and subject of their gossip. She works in accounts and whilst she says she is fine, she really, really isn’t. Her life is empty, she drinks two bottles of vodka every weekend, has a weekly phone call with her mummy, eats the same meals every day and her only friend is a plant in her living room.
Eleanor has met a man and having decided that he is The One, she sets about making him fall in love with her – the only problem is he has never met her before and has no idea she even exists. Whilst this makes it sound like this book is some kind of rom-com it isn’t – this is an example of Eleanor’s lack of social awareness and I found it totally endearing. Gail Honeyman has created a wonderful character in Eleanor, I fell head over heels in love with her, I loved her quirks, I loved her thought processes and there were moments of complete overwhelming sadness where I wanted to climb into the pages and comfort her.
This book is filled with moments of beautiful sweetness, particularly her friendship with Raymond which I thought was honest and believable. It would be easy for these moments to be saccharine and cloying but they’re not at all – his genuine regard for her and compassion was realistic and heart-warming. Gail Honeyman has a deft touch and avoids veering into mawkish territory. Eleanor’s past is hinted at – there are dark shadows lurking at the edge of the page and when the truth unravels it is heart-rending and brutal.
This book absolutely destroyed me – I think the last book that affected me so much was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (if you haven’t read this, please do, it is a masterpiece). I keep thinking about it and I really want to talk about it (I can’t wait to get to book club!) because it is funny, sincere, thought-provoking and utterly, utterly devastating. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine deserves all the plaudits it is getting and I am stunned that this is Gail Honeyman’s debut novel. Accomplished and assured I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. I’ll be giving this book a 10 at book club – something which doesn’t happen very often.
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