Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

November 20, 2018 | Debut Sunday Times Bestseller and Costa First Novel Book Award winner 2017. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is published by Harpercollins. RRP $19.99 (ebook $9.99)

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine except that she isn’t. Not at all. The problem is she doesn’t seem to know it.

I loved this book. Eleanor is a seemingly straight forward character, a lonely, socially isolated woman who follows a quirky routine in her daily life that leaves those around her baffled. This orderly set up of her life is soon disrupted by a random event in the street which sets her on a journey of friendship and forces her to face her tragic past trauma.

Along the way she strikes up a friendship with Raymond from IT at work, engages in a secret mission involving a musician, and learns what family can be.

There are some dark moments in this novel, some brutal depiction of alcoholism, depression and self harm, however they‘re pivotal to the story and integral to the way Eleanor copes. This is a believable fiction in that it is true to how I have seen people cope with trauma in real life. The problems that are worked through by self-medicating do not go away and cannot even be held at bay at times. This is the change-cycle in action.

I read this book at the very start of the year and have carried it in me all year, thinking about it often. Sometimes this happens when I read a book. When I began reading I was reminded of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion but this comparison very quickly shifted as the story progressed. This review is well overdue!

This is one of my top 10 reads of the year.


Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full-time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She lives in Glasgow.


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