'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman

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blistering

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'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman
« on: December 19, 2019, 12:40:17 PM »
This is my review of 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman. In short I think it is a book that probably everyone who deals with trauma from abuse should read at some point.

I first read this book about two weeks ago and have since re-read it twice already, that's how much I love it. I read it because I often saw it recommended online, I knew nothing about it other than that it supposedly had a very unorthodox and interesting female main character. So I went in pretty blind and soon discovered that the book heavily deals with topics like childhood trauma and being raised by an Nparent (who is never directly diagnosed, but what we learn fits well).

This book is much better if you don’t know much about it, so what I will tell you is that it is about Eleanor Oliphant, who has a very empty, boring life, but is ‘completely fine’ with it. She has no friends or really any social relations and does the same thing every week since 9 years. A number of coincidences then lead to major changes in her life.

The book is pretty funny at times because Eleanor is an eccentric character and in many ways behaves socially inappropriate. But ultimately I found her very likeable and in fact many of her thoughts and emotions were eerily similar to me and things I have experienced myself, although she is a more extreme case.

Then the second half of the book pretty much had me constantly crying all throughout, but it was a good, healing kind of crying. It’s sad but ultimately hopeful and heartwarming. I will say that it describes some horrible things and abuse, so it can definitely be triggering to someone like us who has gone through similar things. Topics like PTSD, child abuse, therapy and mental health are portrayed respectfully and realistically, so much that I constantly found myself feeling like I am reading about my own life. In fact I would recommend that if you are currently feeling emotionally vulnerable or having a really hard time with your own trauma related issues, to maybe NOT read this right now.

If I had to criticise something about this book, I felt like Eleanor's improvement and some changes in her life were overly optimistic and went a bit too quick and easy to be real. I also did not like so much that the book spends some time talking about how she changes her looks and how this causes people to be much nicer to her. While this is surely realistic, it was not critically questioned at all and Eleanor just goes from being bullied to being friendly with some people mainly due to changes in her looks. There were also some 'big twists' that were foreshadowed heavily so I already knew what was really going on. But I would say these were minor points.

So yeah basically go read it. I would also like to talk to other members who have maybe already read it. I wonder what other people who have actually experienced similar things feel about it.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2019, 04:24:48 PM »
I listened to the audio version and I loved it. It's a while ago now, but I remember laughing out loud at the part where she describes the visit at the nail studio.

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Hattie

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Re: 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2020, 12:53:52 PM »
Sounds good! I will check it out!
Love is patient; love is kind.
It does not envy; it does not boast.
It is not proud. It does not dishonour others.
It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

1 Corinthians 13: 5-8.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2020, 01:11:31 PM »
I've just started reading it at your recommendation. Thank-you!

I'm really enjoying it but, despite its humour, it is gradually becoming a tough read due to the gradual revelations of why Eleanor behaves as she does. 

I'll check back  in once I've finished reading it.

AOD

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Boat Babe

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Re: 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2020, 01:30:37 PM »
Hi, I read it recently as I heard part of a radio adaptation of the book and liked it.
Yeah, the Narc mum was spot on and I wish we all healed as quickly as Eleanor!


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Associate of Daniel

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Re: 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine' by Gail Honeyman
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2020, 06:48:44 AM »
I've just finished reading it. (I have 3 books on the go so it took me longer to read it than usual.)

Blistering, I think your review was spot on.

I did find Eleanor's recovery to be a little unrealistic in terms of time.  Also, it could have portrayed a little more of the 2 steps forward, 1 step back problems that many of us have with healing.

But I have to say, that for her first book,  Gail did an amazing job.

Eleanor is an inspiring character.

Well worth the read. Although, as Blistering said, if you're triggered by child abuse and similar, it's perhaps best not to read it.

AOD