Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Number of Pages: 336
I’ve had this book on my to-read list for ages, and I’m happy to say that it absolutely did live up to the hype for me. The titular main character of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a lonely, strange young woman who drinks more than she should and is harshly judgmental of other people.
On paper she doesn’t seem like somebody who should be likable, but I found myself becoming more and more attached to her over the course of the book. Eleanor’s mum is awful and she literally has no one in her life who cares about her, until she gradually builds a rapport with her clumsy chain-smoking co-worker Raymond. Raymond takes notice of Eleanor when they both help an elderly man who’s been in an accident and he sees the good in her she doesn’t see in herself. I loved that their relationship stayed platonic throughout and Gail Honeyman didn’t decide to force romance into it.
I’m gray ace and I like to see stories where men and women are just friends without one of them having fit the ‘gay best friend’ trope to explain away the lack of romantic tension. Eleanor’s voice was wry, humorous, and not quite like anything I’d ever encountered before. She’s had such a hard life and despite her multitudes of imperfections I just wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be okay.
Most people would have written Eleanor off and I loved how Raymond didn’t. I felt that Eleanor was both on the autism spectrum and had PTSD, but the author didn’t make it about saddling her character with diagnoses and labels. This book was fantastic and Eleanor Oliphant is a protagonist who will stick with me for a long time.
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