Book Review | Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is one of the most remarkable characters I’ve come across. My first thought was, OK, this is a social misfit but at some point you begin to realize it takes an amount of courage to do the things she considers normal.
The book opens to a rundown of her schedule, so strict you ask yourself ‘ Is Eleanor Oliphant really fine?’ Her loneliness shines through to the reader, because we know it’s abnormal.
“It often feels as if I’m not here, that I’m a figment of my own imagination.
Eleanor doesn’t see this. In her words
“I’m a sole survivor – I’m Eleanor Oliphant. I don’t need anyone else – there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I am a self-contained entity.”
Her lack of tact when speaking is troubling until you realize there are no ill intentions behind her words.
These quirky things : Her regimented lifestyle, her formal way of speaking (I learned new words!), her dark humor, endears her to the reader quickly.
The themes of loneliness, courage and kindness calls to mind how we take a lot of things for granted because we are accustomed to having them – friends, family, the ability to socially integrate.
I loved the build up and the unfolding of events that led to what made her into this person. The language draws you in so much, you find yourself rooting for Eleanor and thinking of the ones around you who need your attention.
Every defining moment occurred because of a kind gesture, mostly from unexpected persons like the fashionable and glamorous Laura, whom you half expect to be a snob but isn’t.
Although marketed as a Love story, this novel is so much more than that. It has a lot of humor and still hits all the spectrum of emotions. Every character reminds us why we shouldn’t judge at first look.
These are some of my favourite lines from the book.
- It often feels as if I’m not here, that I’m a figment of my own imagination. There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar. A strong gust of wind could dislodge me completely, and I’d lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock
- 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.
- It took me a moment or two to learn the shapes, and then I was able to copy them. Freeform jigging, communal shapes in the air; freeform jigging, communal shapes in the air. Dancing was easy.
- I steeled myself as best I could, and, with teeth gritted, using only one finger I typed: C U there E. I sat back, feeling a bit queasy. Illiterate communication was quicker, that was true, but not by much. I’d saved myself the trouble of typing four whole characters. Still, it was part of my new credo, trying new things. I’d tried it, and I very definitely did not like it.
- Time only blunts the pain of loss