Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, UK, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, UK, 2017

On the cover, John Boyne writes ‘A masterful combination of humour and sadness’ – a statement that beautifully sums up the entire book.

Eleanor Oliphant, thirty, lives alone. She has very little to do with the other people in the office where she works in accounts. She eats the same food every day, follows the same routines, and, on the weekends, dulls her senses with vodka. Moreover, she is socially inept, and she has no friends. Although all of this is tragic, Honeyman manages to present her heroine with a great deal of humour where the reader finds that he/she can laugh with Eleanor and not at her.

At the same time there is a current of something more serious. Once a week Eleanor speaks with her mother on the phone. Is her mother in gaol? Is she in an institution? No one knows; all that is obvious is that her mother is a very manipulative, unpleasant character.

When an elderly man has a fall in the street, Eleanor’s life suddenly becomes tied up with that of Raymond, the IT-support person at the office. Raymond definitely does not fit Eleanor’s idea of the ‘perfect man’ (she has already decided who her ‘perfect man’ is), but a series of twists and turns changes her perspective not only on Raymond and what is or is not perfect but on life itself.

While the first part of the book relies predominately on humour, the second part flips over to all that is dark and serious below the surface, and, bit by bit, we piece together Eleanor’s tragic background.

A story about loneliness and the power of friendship, this is a book that has a message for everyone.

The image of Gail Honeyman is from The Guardian

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