Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Genre: Fiction/Humor/Drama
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 time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
Then 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.


Review: This is yet another one of those heartwarming stories about an odd, quirky, possibly grumpy, likely anti-social individual learning how to reintegrate into the community, making friends and finding happiness along the way. From the description, she sounds just like me (minus the vodka). I tend to say exactly what I think, because I can't stand people who don't (doesn't make me rude, I have tact; I'm just honest). I avoid socialising, and don't even socialise at work (like Eleanor). I stay home all weekend, and read, game, etc. To me, this is a good life, and it's not one that needs to change in any way.

Now, granted, Eleanor's life does need to change. She has issues which become readily apparent, which go beyond what is mentioned in the synopsis - and that's fair. She needs some help, she should get it. But what I don't like is how anyone who doesn't fit the average is seen as kooky and a source of amusement for readers. Not knowing about fashion, makeup, waxing, pubs, there's nothing wrong with this. There's nothing funny about someone who doesn't understand the assumptions that socially-ept people make. And yet, all of the humor in this book (and I laughed, too, before realising I was frequently laughing at myself), derives from Eleanor's inability to function as 'normal' people do. That does not sit well with me.

Raymond, however, is the reason this book got 3 stars. I love Raymond, he's a fantastic character. A simple guy who takes pleasure from simple things. While sometimes baffled by Eleanor's behavior, he does not laugh at her (as the reader does), he simply accepts her, or gently assists her in situations where she risks causing offense or complete confusion. But he never judges her, only supports her and never tries to change her. This is an attitude all people should aspire to, and if for no other reason, Raymond's handling of Eleanor makes this book worth reading - the kind of people who laugh at Eleanor are the kind of people who need to read about Raymond.

Rating: 3/5

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