Posts Tagged ‘Gail Honeyman’

‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman – The Reclamation of a Woman


‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman (2017) – 325 pages

‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ is a phenomenon. Why do I say this? The main gauge I use to determine a book’s popularity is the number of holds it has on it in the Hennepin County Library system. Hennepin County contains all of Minneapolis, Minnesota as well as many of its largest suburbs. The number of holds are the number of people who are waiting in line to check the book out. Currently ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ has 510 holds on 90 copies of the book. This is comparable to the number of holds there would be for a brand new novel by a famous author. Yet ‘Elizabeth Oliphant is Completely Fine’ is a first novel written way back in 2017. Only such phenomenons as ‘Gone Girl’ have these kind of numbers after three years. And best of all, ‘Elizabeth Oliphant’ qualifies as substantial literature.

The fictional character Eleanor Oliphant and I shared a similar problem. We were both standoffish. Both of us went about our business quite competently but avoided other people as much as possible. Eleanor had much better reasons for her standoffishness than I ever did. You will have to read the novel to find out her reasons. Eleanor has built a psychological wall around herself which effectively keeps most other people out. Eleanor has poor social skills and unrealistic expectations.

I had no one, and it was futile to wish it were otherwise. After all, it was no more than I deserved. And, really, I was fine, fine, fine.”

For me, I gave off these vibrations to others indicating that “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me.” I kept myself at a distance from others as does Eleanor.

This is the story of a young woman awakening from her standoffish life.

Your voice changes when you’re smiling, it alters the sound somehow.”

‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ is refreshing because it contains something you don’t find often in modern fiction, a good man. A good man is hard to find in modern novels or stories. At times like these, it is difficult to remember that there are still any decent people in the world. Raymond is a positive force in this novel.

I suppose someone could argue that the story in ‘Eleanor Oliphant’ is not very sophisticated. I do not see sophistication as a necessary or even desirable attribute of literature. Rather I see stating situations as simply and clearly as possible as one of the hallmarks of good literature, and that Eleanor Oliphant does.

‘Eleanor Oliphant’ is a poignant and affecting story.


Grade:   A+


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