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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Contemporary fiction

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Gail Honeyman, on your first book!

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by Gail Honeyman

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Quick take

"This is a warm account of one woman’s fight to let go of old hurts and insecurities and make room for self-acceptance and friends."

Synopsis

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.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes . . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

When people ask me what I do&emdash;taxi drivers, hairdressers&emdash;I tell them I work in an office. In almost nine years, no one's ever asked me what kind of office, or what sort of job I do there. I can't decide whether that's because I fit perfectly with their idea of what an office worker looks like, or whether people hear the phrase work in an office and automatically fill in the blanks themselves&emdash;lady doing photocopying, man tapping at a keyboard. I'm not complaining. I'm delighted that I don't have to get into the fascinating intricacies of accounts receivable with them. When I first started working here, whenever anyone asked, I told them that I worked for a graphic design company, but then they assumed I was a creative type. It became bit boring to see their faces blank over when I explained that it was back office stuff, that I didn't get to use the fine-tipped pens and the fancy software.

I'm nearly thirty years old now and I've been working here since I was 21. Bob, the owner, took me on not long after the office opened. I supposed he felt sorry for me. I had a degree in Classics and no work experience to speak of, and I turned up for the interview with a black eye, a couple of missing teeth and a broken arm. Maybe he sensed, back then, that I would never aspire to anything more than a poorly paid office job, that I would be content to stay with the company and save him the bother of ever having to recruit a replacement. Perhaps he could also tell that I'd never need to take time off to go on honeymoon, or request maternity leave. I don't know.

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Why I love it

Ever meet one of those people who, for no clear reason, treats you like you’re not worth the time of day? I often wonder what their reason is for acting like that. Did they wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Are they just clueless about how conversations work? Or could it be that their life experiences give them reason to be guarded, to be wary of giving other people even the tiniest of ins?

Eleanor Oliphant falls—mostly—into the latter category. Thirty years old, she’s a mid-level accountant whose life runs along several well-worn, if lonely, tracks: dinners for one, weekly calls with her spritely, acid-tongued "Mummy," and, most of all, taking pains to avoid humanity. Sure, she doesn’t have friends, but in general, Eleanor is doing okay. In fact, she’s "completely fine." Um, yeah, no.

Though I was instantly won over by her cheerful narration, it wasn’t long before I began to suspect that Eleanor is not as fine as she pretends. Her plan to marry a local rock star in order to impress Mummy is just weird. Her weekend vodka-drinking seems excessive. And while her inability to get along with co-workers is definitely due to a lack of social graces (you’ll LOL at a few unwitting moments of rudeness), it also comes from her steadfast refusal to connect. When she’s forced to rescue an old man who’s collapsed outside the office, we realize that while Eleanor possesses the ability to let love in, heartbreakingly, she’s got some reason not to.

To be clear, this isn’t a mystery about Eleanor’s dark past, although gradually, the truth of her frightful upbringing is revealed. This is a warm account of one woman’s fight to let go of old hurts and insecurities and make room for self-acceptance and friends. If it sounds like a corny premise, trust me when I say this girl’s got grit. She’s a survivor, she’s witty, and, against all odds, she’s got a fair bit of unextinguishable pride. She’s Eleanor Oliphant. I can’t wait for you to meet her.

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Member ratings (17,109)

  • Patricia D.

    Marana, AZ

    This book deserves to be on one those “must read” lists. I’ve never seen mental health issues portrayed with such accuracy & sensitivity. This book is utterly perfect and a boon for all “Eleanors”. <3

  • AlysonKristen B.

    North Hollywood , CA

    At first I didn't like this book, it was just completely fine. Then I found that this book has layers just like we do. We just need someone to look past the “fine” & see what's really going on.

  • Karen G.

    Pasadena, TX

    I was about to quit this book but I’m glad I kept going, at the beginning I didn’t like Eleanor but at the end found out she is amazing. I really liked it, don’t know why I waited too long to read it

  • Alison T.

    Edison, NJ

    When I first started, I thought, “all that fuss over this?” I kept going, and - WOW. This book, it sort of sneaks up on you, into your soft, emotional spaces, and stays with you long after you’re done

  • Courtnie N.

    Kamuela, HI

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The way this unfolds is so brilliant. Eleanor is so judgmental and funny and oblivious. Does anyone know if there’s a picture somewhere of her signature??? I’m so curious.

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