Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is the award winning debut written by Scottish author Gail Honeyman and was published in April 2017 by Harper Collins Publishers.
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is the humorous yet harrowing story of an extremely organised young woman who bit by bit learns to confront a dark and sobering past.
GoodReads Rating: 4.4/5
Lochanreads rating: 3.8/5
I suppose you’re wondering why this inventively novel yet standard shot of an ancient Prussian structure made its way into this review. Well put simply, I was about to board a plane to Berlin and needed some distraction to rescue me from my phone. I perused the shelves of the airport outlet and was somewhat instantly drawn to the nutshell overview on the back of this particular book. I read with complete abandon during the turbulent flight and for the following three days used every opportunity to see what would unravel next.
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is without doubt one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time, with moments that actually made me laugh out loud at the same time my heart was breaking. I think that any novel that can invoke this twofold effect is deserving of the adulation is receives.
This book and its protagonist, Eleanor Oliphant is arguably as verbose -if not more so- than myself with a lexicon boasting such words as troubadour and zetabetical.
The character of Eleanor Oliphant was developed in such a way that kept the reader completely invested from beginning to end, even during those -I’m sorry to say- sometimes dry moments involving the banality of going out on a weekly shop or buying a pair of boots. I think what continued to grip me during those tedious moments was the protagonist herself. Because Eleanor Oliphant is such an interesting and well-fleshed out character, it seems like the author was content to rely on the merits of her quirkiness to elevate an otherwise mundane and everyday activity into a novelty.
Of all the characters in this novel, of which there were not many in my estimation, the protagonist gets the best development as you would expect. The underdeveloped side characters with the exception of Raymond, seem like mere plot devices, if they even effect the plot at all. We come to appreciate Raymond’s character more in later chapters but even he, from his induction seems like a plot device to aid in Eleanor’s development.
The story paces itself very well in terms of how much information about the plot is revealed; the gradualness of which stretches until the ending. The ending accomplishes what any great ending should; it lingers on the mind of the reader well after completing the book.
Despite the sometimes loquacious prose, Honeyman excels at using simple descriptive imagery to create a vivid picture that appeals to the reader’s imagination. For example when she describes the “copper depths” of a musician’s eyes, or a sound that “shimmered into the air; nebulous and milky.”
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is a highly enjoyable read and intuitively clever in the way it addresses the darker themes of the story, the likes of which I believe has great societal relevance today. This book is really easy to recommend and I’m sure you will have as much fun with it as I did.
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