Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Pamela Dorman Books | May 9, 2017
Eleanor Oliphant was pretty much what I expected. It was a poignant, compassionate, novel about a very sad and lonely woman. I also heard Eleanor was funny, but just how funny was more surprising than I anticipated. Eleanor’s inner dialogue was overflowing with the funniest observations.
Eleanor buying shoes:
“She had tried to steer me towards vertiginous heels again – why are these people so incredibly keen on crippling their female customers? I began to wonder if cobblers and chiropractors had established some fiendish cartel.”
Eleanor on Spongebob:
“It’s SpongeBob, Eleanor,” he said, speaking very slowly and clearly as though I were some sort of idiot. “SpongeBob SquarePants?” A semi-human bath sponge with protruding front teeth! On sale as if it were something completely unremarkable! For my entire life, people have said that I’m strange, but really, when I see things like this, I realize that I’m actually relatively normal.”
Eleanor’s version of a polite ‘No’:
“No thank you,” I said. “I don’t want to accept a drink from you, because then I would be obliged to purchase one for you in return, and I’m afraid I’m simply not interested in spending two drinks’ worth of time with you.”
I would have loved this book already, just from reading Eleanor interacting with the world, but we got some more to Eleanor than quips. She was mutifaceted. Eleanor was a tragic heroine who wanted so badly to be happy and loved. Just as fast as I laughed, I also found myself with tears in my eyes.
“I took one of my hands in the other, tried to imagine what it would feel like if it was another person’s hand holding mine. There have been times where I felt that I might die of loneliness.”
It killed me. Gail Honeyman really nailed making Eleanor, who was a complicated character, sympathetic. I liked her, even at her most abrasive. I wanted to know about her history, and how she became the woman she was.
I also really enjoyed how Eleanor’s relationships were written. Obviously I enjoyed her friendship with Raymond. It was a highlight of the story. I always love that one character who shows the most kindness. Raymond never took Eleanor’s brusqueness to heart. When he did upset her, he felt absolutely awful, and not because he felt guilty. It was because genuinely cared about Eleanor as a person, and as his friend. He liked her for exactly who she was.
In addition to Raymond, I liked how Sammy and his family embraced her. I love how Raymond’s mom cared for her and enjoyed her company, no matter how strange she acted. And I loved Glen. Obviously.
The only problem I had, and it was a teeny tiny problem, one which only affected me, was how there were hints of something potentially romantic coming around the corner, just as the book ended. I know it wasn’t that kind of story, and I’m sure it’s probably a bonus for most how Gail Honeyman didn’t delve into the romance genre while writing Eleanor Oliphant. I just personally feel unfulfilled. Right as I got to the good stuff, my kinda good stuff, it ended. I still want to read Eleanor find her romantic relationship!