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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine–healing for the traumatized

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

by Gail Honeyman

I had heard lots of chatter about Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine since before it was published. I found it to be one of those books that stays with you past the last page: the characters are unforgettable. It is Gail Honeyman’s debut novel, but it is so well written that you would think her an experienced author.

This is the tale of Eleanor Oliphant who clearly had a difficult childhood and then was shuttled off to a series of foster homes. She is very smart, but awkward socially. She endures her workweek in the accounting department at a graphic arts business, relieving her pain on the weekends with several bottles of vodka. Friendless, she decides to change her life by having a relationship with a singer she has a crush on from afar. Meanwhile, reality intervenes when she meets Raymond from the IT department. He is slightly unkempt, chews with his mouth open, and wears trainers (sneakers) all the time, but is also kind, understanding, and patient. Through Raymond and with help from a counselor, Eleanor learns what it can be like to have unconditional love and the physical touch of another human being.

She is tormented by weekly calls from “Mummy” who continues the verbal abuse and threats that Eleanor suffered during her childhood. The last part of the book centers around Eleanor facing the demons of her past. I was not expecting the ending in the way the story played out. It made me mentally revisit the plot and the trauma Eleanor had endured in a new light. In summary, it is a good book, but made for bad bedtime reading.

Rating: 5/5

Notes: 1. Blurbs about the book included “incredibly funny” and “hilarious.” I would label it “dark and sprinkled with humor.”

  1. If child abuse is a trigger for you, you might want to give this one a pass. Thankfully, there are not a lot of graphic descriptions, but it is an essential thread that runs through the book.
  2. Includes obscenities.
  3. This is a good book club read as there is so much to discuss. Penguin Books includes a Readers Guide comprised of an introduction, questions for discussion, and a conversation with the author.

Category: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Publication: 2017—Penguin Books

Memorable Lines:

His mother was still talking. “Denise was eleven when Raymond came along—a wee surprise and a blessing, so he was.” She looked at him with so much love that I had to turn away. At least I know what love looks like, I told myself. That’s something. No one had ever looked at me like that, but I’d be able to recognize it if they ever did.

It was halfway to dark by then, with both a moon and a sun sitting high in a sky that was sugar almond pink and shot with gold. The birds were singing valiantly against the coming night, swooping over the greens in long, drunken loops. The air was grassy, with a hint of flowers and earth, and the warm sweet outbreath of the day sighed gently into our hair and over our skin.

Was this how it worked, then, successful social integration? Was it really that simple? Wear some lipstick, go to the hairdressers and alternate the clothes you wear? Someone ought to write a book, or at least an explanatory pamphlet, and pass this information on.


  1. I definitely couldn’t read this at bedtime. Stories like this tend to stick with me. Thank you for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WendyW says:

    I like your blurb for the book, “dark and sprinkled with humor.” As you said, it fits the book much better. I listened to this audiobook and loved it, but, I didn’t listen to it at night!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LA says:

    This is another book I loved

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jenna says:

    I have been hearing about this book for years, but it just doesn’t appeal…especially if it’s hard to read at night! Thanks Linda, now I know I will definitely pass on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gretchen says:

    I really enjoyed this one too. I agree with you – “incredibly funny” and “hilarious” are not words I would use to describe it. There were definitely funny parts. I love quirky characters and both Eleanor and Raymond were unique and memorable characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      I have to agree with your evaluation of the characters. Whereas some characters in books fade as I start a new book, these two stand out; I will remember them and this book quite distinctly.


  6. Carla says:

    This is another of those books that I have had on my shelf for a long time. I really want to read this book and your review reminds me why, Linda. I think Eleanor sounds like a great character with a lot of problems, rightfully so. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

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