Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine


Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Publisher: Harper Collins (30 May 2017)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 359 on Amazon
Pages: 400

I had heard a lot about this book on Social Media and everyone was going gaga over it. But after 'The Fault In Our Stars' which was one of the most lamest books that I've ever read, I stopped taking Social Media reviews seriously. When many friends started personally recommending this book to me, I was intrigued. Still, not enough to go and buy it. When Shailaja, whose taste in books I immensely trust, pushed me to read it, I knew it was time to give in and pick this one. So, I did. I started reading this on my plane journey and read bits and pieces of it throughout my European sojourn and I completed this on the flight back home.

Eleanor Oliphant, a 30 year old single woman, is a loner and leads a mechanical life. Her life is a timetable as she wears the same clothes and shoes to work everyday, the same place she's been working at for nine years straight out of college, reserves her weekend for frozen pizza and vodka, chats with her mummy on the phone on the same day of every week and she loves to live a planned life on her own terms. She says exactly what she's thinking and it isn't always kind. Thanks to being a creature of habit, Eleanor is friendless and she doesn't miss having friends either. When Eleanor is forced to interact with Raymond, the IT guy from her office thanks to her computer not working, life begins to change. She's not very happy about it initially, but soon she begins to give in. Eleanor is considered a weirdo by her colleagues, but Raymond treats her like an equal. She thinks he's too unhygienic and has no regard for manners or vocabulary. When Eleanor and Raymond happen to save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen down on the street, they are welcomed into his family with open arms.

Eleanor is the way she is for a reason. After an "accident" in her childhood, she is terribly scarred. Literally and figuratively. She's moved from one foster home to another and fears her biological mother who is everything a mother should not be. Eleanor fears her mother deeply and every time she talks to her, her mother only has bad things to say about her, hampering her self-confidence and telling her what a dangerous place the world is and how she must stay away from it. When regular interactions with Raymond and Sammy begin to change something within her, Eleanor realizes that being fine is just not enough. She needs to feel content and happy and no one can help her get there but herself.

This probably is one of those books where I've loved every word, every situation, every page and every character (except the mother). It is such a wonderful story that I can't stop thinking about it even though I have finished reading the book. As someone with a troubled childhood, who was mocked for being skinny/dark/poor by people close to me, I can understand the soul of this book and why Eleanor was the way she was. This book goes on to show how having a negative influence in your life, be it in the form of a parent, sibling, co-worker, a family member, friend or partner can destroy one from the inside and the outside. Most importantly, this books shows us how important it is to grow up in the right atmosphere and around good, positive people. It is terribly frightening to realize how much our childhood experiences impact us and mould us as adults. Will I ever be able to forget what I went through as a child? Probably not. But I will never let it hold me back from what I want to do today.

Eleanor is weird, yes, there is no sugar-coating this. But that is what a troubled childhood does to you. You become vary of everyone around you and detest human interaction with the fear of being harmed. I have often been told that my immediate reflex for almost everything is that of defense. Yes, that's what I taught myself. Eleanor is judgmental yes, but if that is all you have known all your life, what else would you be? In spite of her eccentricities you cannot help but fall in love with her. Personally, I could empathize with her on every level. Her journey of self-discovery reminded me of myself. I see so much of myself in Eleanor and I have no qualms talking about it. Even though I did not take as long as she did, I found myself and made a life for myself, just like the way she does, eventually.

Raymond is another adorable character, as is his mother. The way he helps Eleanor in little ways and makes her take a deep look within herself, is something very hard to find these days. This book belongs to Raymond as much as it does to Eleanor and that is the beauty of it. Their relationship, though platonic, is so warm and fuzzy and Raymond is the friend we all need in our lives. Sammy and his family show us what families are supposed to be like. Good families help heal anyone, even an outsider. Even though the "Mummy" angle was quite predictable, I wouldn't change anything in this book.

I know this is a really long review, but I had a lot to say. This might not be one of the greatest books out there, but for me, this holds a piece of my heart.


Verdict: I loved every bit of this book. Read this for a lesson in compassion, friendship, kindness, self-discovery and humanity.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

12 comments:

  1. I am so glad you wrote the review. Longer the better :) I was filled with such a sense of overwhelming pathos and love when I put the book down. Read it in under 1 day. And I just knew you'd love it after 'A Man Called Ove.' How sweet of you trust my recommendations :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha, with a decent success rate I shall go on trusting looks like it :D

      Delete
  2. I loved reading this one too Soumya and it didnt disappoint me at all; I too could relate to her persecution vis-a-vis my own during my childhood :-)
    You said it right that this book will hold a special place in my heart

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like I said before, we have great taste, my girl :)

      Delete
  3. Agree a one hundred percent. The thing that stood out for me is how completely her personality is moulded by her mum and the wonderful change love and acceptance bring to her life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At one point of time I was a bit petrified of how much I could relate to Eleanor. It scared me to death. But then again, we all choose which battles to fight and which ones to let go.

      Delete
  4. I have to still read this one but with such glowing reviews, I guess I have to pick this one up. Now to find time. Sigh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please do read this, Rachna. You will not be disappointed.

      Delete
  5. So glad you loved it Soumya. I loved every word of it too, the way the narration moved and the characters too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another book which is staring at me from my bookshelf. I really should read it! Loved the review, Soumya. I blindly follow your recommendations. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh do read this, Shalini! You will not be disappointed.

      Delete

Care to leave a word or two? Thanks for dropping by :)