Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a difficult book to summarise, not because it is a complicated novel, but rather that it is structured in such a way that any sort of description can spoil the whole book. I will try my best to be as vague as possible.

As the book opens we are presented with thirty year old Eleanor Oliphant. She likes routine. She is out of touch with contemporary culture and she is judgmental. Not only that but her command of the English language is rich and yet it is childlike at the same time. Of course there are reasons but I’d rather you readers discover that.

One day an event takes place which helps Oliphant asses her life and in the process she makes some startling revelations, some which will surprise the reader and some a perceptive reader will find out quite early in the book due to the clues that Oliphant lets slip in her narrative. In a way you could say that she is an unreliable narrator who evolves into becoming a reliable one, the more she discovers what life is all about.

EOICF is not a self help book disguised as a novel. It does have elements of that but the book is concerned with how one person with psychological issues can attempt to face them, especially when they are challenging.

So why five stars? Well all the characters in this book are fully realised, with their good and bad traits. The title character is memorable. I like the way the plot develops and Honeyman manages to make serious matters seem trivial until the reader, and by extension, Oliphant, actually realise how serious the things are.

For a debut novel, EOICF is fully formed and teases the reader but including enough closure to make sure the reader is not frustrated. I am definitely a fan of Honeyman and I cannot wait to see what she’ll do next.