Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of a quirky yet lonely woman whose social misunderstandings and deeply ingrained routines could be changed forever—if she can bear to confront the secrets she has avoided all her life. But if she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.
*Sigh* I loved this book. I had been hearing tons of positive chatter about this book since its debut last year. I am somewhat reluctant to read books that are “all the rage”. I always have high expectations and they are rarely ever met. However, a few weeks ago I surprisingly found it sitting on the shelf at my local library. I knew that the right time had come and I was meant to read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
I really cannot remember another fictional character that I truly connected with the way that I have with Eleanor. I absolutely adore Eleanor. I found humor in the way she dealt with social situations. I love that she has no filter. I am envious of her extensively impressive vocabulary. I understand her need for safe seclusion from others. I feel empathy for her because it is obvious that her past is a sad one. I champion her resolve to break out of her shell even if the reason is silly. As a reader, I am 100% on her side because I want Eleanor to live a happy life.
So it goes without saying that this debut novel by Gail Honeyman lives up to the hype. It seriously gives you all the feels. I was laughing one page, cringing the next and my eyes were welling up. I was telling my husband all about Eleanor as I was reading it as if she was a new friend I had made. I felt protective of her. I was excited for the little changes that were happening. I was sad for her when she would drink vodka all weekend because life was easier to handle that way. I was happy when she would agree to spend time with Raymond the IT guy from her work. I was very invested in Eleanor….very much so… as any friend would be.
There have been many comparisons made between this and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I understand the comparisons but I do not agree. Ove is very much a curmudgeon. A grouchy old man who is sick of living in this world and wants nothing to do with the people around him. Despite his best efforts to separate himself from people they still inch there way into his life. Eleanor is different. Eleanor has experienced personal tragedy that is obvious right from the beginning. While she shelters herself and prefers to avoid most social interactions outside of her work it does not mean that she is completely adverse to it. She still puts herself out there if there is a logical reason to do so…say social propriety? Eleanor is blunt and honest when she interacts with others but nonetheless is always polite. Her honesty has more to do with ignorance rather than rudeness as in the the case of Ove.
I am truly sad that my time with Eleanor Oliphant came to an end. I will miss her dearly. I got to experience her first trip to a fast food restaurant (hilarious I promise). I got to be with Eleanor as she began to slowly burst into the world around her and LIVE. It was a heartwarming reading experience that I will treasure. I am sure that I will always smile when I think of Eleanor and encourage others to read her story. It really is a great story.