Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

Publisher: Harper Collins

There’s not a lot that I can say about ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ that hasn’t already been said.

The book is ultimately about loneliness and that as humans we profoundly need to connect with other humans. Human connection is incredibly important if we are to keep our humanity. I thought this one of the saddest, but most accurate quotes in the book.

“These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it, other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similiar horror upon them”

As you read the book, you realise that Eleanor’s ways are due to her lack of ‘life experiences’. Eleanor wasn’t brought up with the simple niceties that most of us are taught and then through imposed isolation, she hasn’t learnt how to interact with others. Eleanor finds it easier to do the crossword than talk to her colleagues (who most of the time she doesn’t understand). Eleanor takes language literally and speaks in an old-fashioned register. She’s an oddball living in a world that she can’t quite get her head around, so she just chooses not to.

Though, to be perfectly honest, I LOVED ELEANOR OLIPHANT. Yes, there were times when my heart broke for her, but to be honest a few more “Eleanors” in the world would make life much more interesting and more straightforward than the weak-willed sycophantic idiots the world seems to be made up of.

Many reviews have said that Eleanor isn’t a likeable character and that it took them some time to identify with her. I never found that at all (which probably says more about me), I found a connection with Eleanor from the first page. AND yes I understand that deep down Eleanor is incredibly lonely, but I loved her interactions with her colleagues and the people around her. Even now, when I am in a situation, I sometimes think – ‘What would Eleanor do?’.

So rather than give a review of this beautiful book written by Gail Honeyman, I have decided to write two lists and to say that this book is one of my favourites of all time.

What I Learnt from reading ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.’

  1. It is essential to see the world from different viewpoints.
  2. We shouldn’t judge a person by their appearance (once we know them, judge away!).
  3. We live in a world of self-absorbed people.
  4. There’s a difference between being alone and loneliness.
  5. You need human connection, even if it is just one person that you connect with.
  6. Good people (like Raymond) are in the minority.
  7. Enjoy your happy “shiny” moments in life.
  8. It is okay to be YOU.
  9. Channelling Eleanor can be a good thing!
  10. It is never too late!

My favourite quotes from ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.’

“Human mating rituals are unbelievably tedious to observe. At least in the animal kingdom you are occasionally treated to a flash of bright feathers or a display of spectacular violence. Hair flicking and play fights don’t quite cut the mustard.”

“Pilot is there too, the handsome, soulful-eyed hound. If the book has one failing, it’s there is insufficient mention of Pilot. You can’t have too much dog in a book.”

“Sport is a mystery to me. In primary school, sports day was the one day of the year when the less academically gifted students could triumph, winning prizes for jumping fastest in a sack, or running from Point A to Point B more quickly than their classmates. How they loved to wear those badges on their blazers the next day! As if a silver in the egg-and-spoon race was some sort of compensation for not understanding how to use an apostrophe.”

“And the office is largely staffed by shirkers and idiots, Raymond. Managing them and their workloads would be quite a challenge, I can assure you.”

“No thank you,” I said. “I don’t want to accept a drink from you, because then I would be obliged to purchase one for you in return, and I’m afraid I’m simply not interested in spending two drinks’ worth of time with you.’