Author: Gail Honeyman
Genre: Contemporary, General Fiction
Published: May 9th 2017 by Viking – Pamela Dorman Books
Rating: 3/5 stars ★★★
“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
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.
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.
3 of 5 stars to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
The amount of hype this book has is unbelievable—it’s in the NYT Best Sellers List for a whole year now and soon to be a motion picture too—but I find myself not as impressed with it and not as in love with Eleanor’s character.
However, it always happens like this. When a book has garnered a huge hype, my expectations for it naturally heightens so the room for disappointment is ever bigger.
“Eleanor is Completely Fine” initially held true to what I was promised. She was indeed funny BUT only in the beginning (as in the first two chapters only). After that, her babbles weren’t as amusing but no worries, I like her enough and I’m curious to what her story is. In this department, the story didn’t disappoint. What happened to her was horrendous. I just wish the author didn’t drag on the secret forever. Curiosity about her past was the only thing that kept me going.
On the topic of her character, however, I find myself having reservations. She was doing fine until she acted in a way that I really dislike: turning a conversation about her.
Scene: Raymond was opening up to Eleanor about how his relationship with an ex-girlfriend ended, how he’s confused about what went wrong and Eleanor responded by saying something along the lines of, “That’s nothing compared to what I experienced” and proceeds to tell him about an ex-boyfriend who beat her up. Naturally, Raymond was shocked. All of his love troubles forgotten.
The point is, this conversation was about Raymond. Eleanor basically invalidated his feelings and I hate that. But then I think, this self-centered attitude is at the root of Eleanor’s nature, it’s part of her character so I guess it’s not fair to hold that against her especially given the way she was raised.
In some instances, I even find myself in her and maybe that’s the real reason I didn’t love her. I mean, I don’t love myself either. Heck, I don’t even “like” me. (And that’s the tea for today LOL)
The last few chapters where her story finally unravels are the most compelling. I didn’t see that twist coming. At that moment, I felt real sympathy for her. All these years she’s been suffering and no one is there to help her sort things out in her mind. In the end, I’m thankful Raymond and Sammy came to her life. Eleanor deserves it, deserves them.
Anyway, I may not have been on board with the crowd but I understand why this book became popular. It’s got heart, that’s true, and it’s an unconventional story to boot.