Emily May's Reviews > Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: contemporary, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is completely 100% fine. She goes to her office job five days a week and then treats herself to a frozen pizza and a bottle of vodka on a weekend. She lives alone and doesn't have any friends, but that's okay. She's doing real well, thank you very much.

Except maybe she isn't.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine caught me completely unawares. I'll be honest - I picked it up because it got some buzz and the author is British, but it actually turned out to be one of those perfectly-balanced sad/funny books. Maybe like some combination of The Rosie Project, Me Before You, Finding Audrey and A Man Called Ove. It takes a serious, traumatic issue and weaves it into a warm, funny and, yes, sometimes sad tale.

I read a lot of books and many characters come and go. Some are well-developed and interesting, others less so. But on a rare occasion I find one of those truly memorable characters that will stay with me a long time. Eleanor is one of them. She is socially clueless in a way that puts my teen self to shame. She is literal to a degree that everyone finds odd. It's painful to witness and yet so, so endearing.

I think I like this book so much because it is actually really sad, but never manipulative. On a surface level, it's a very funny novel about a socially-inept twenty-nine year-old woman. Her attempts to become "normal" and integrate into society by having manicures and waxes are sources of hilarity. But it is very sad. It's sad when we see her coworkers talking about her, but Eleanor is oblivious to their scorn. It's sad how alone in life she is. It's sad when she "falls in love" with an idea of a person.

It's not a romantic book and I'm glad. There are hints that the central relationship will eventually develop into romance, but this is really a book about Eleanor. I am thankful that the author didn't cure Eleanor and lead her out of the darkness by having her fall in love. Being happy and achieving greater self-worth should, in my opinion, never be linked to romance.

I really enjoyed it. It's great to find a book so packed full of emotion without seeming overly-sentimental.

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Reading Progress

July 15, 2017 – Shelved
July 21, 2017 – Started Reading
July 24, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 99 (99 new)


Marika Don't read it! It's a trap!


Weronika Zimna I've read 40% of this book so far and I'm really enjoying it. I have similar observations. Nice review, Emily! As always, of course. :)


Emily May Weronika wrote: "I've read 40% of this book so far and I'm really enjoying it. I have similar observations. Nice review, Emily! As always, of course. :)"

Thank you :)


Jillian_Marie I loved this book! Like you, it caught me unawares! I love your reviews and am so happy you liked this book. She put my teen awkward self to shame too!! Hahaha


Megan I loved Eleanor, too! Great review!


message 6: by Gabriela (new) - added it

Gabriela I was just thinking that they aren't any 29 years old character like me and I found one now. Thank you!


Dileni Oh man, I really want to read this now. My library has such a long wait list for it- might have to go out and buy it myself.


message 8: by Bea (new) - added it

Bea I really want to read this now!


Kirsty Halliwell I picked this book up today after seeing you'd reviewed it and ended up reading it all in one sitting. It's absolutely brilliant and your review covers it so, so well!


Melanie Perfect summary of this book Emily May. I always look my 'to read books' up on your page first to see whether it's worth me getting into it. You're always bang on!!!


message 11: by K (new) - rated it 5 stars

K D Just wanted to thank you for the time and effort that you put into writing reviews.


S. Umar I have been meaning to read this one for a while. Seems fun. After this review, definitely going up my to-read-list.


Abmost When I see a 4-5 star review from you I know I'm in for a treat. I've got this on order from the library and now I'm mentally urging the person who has it to hurry up so I can read it! :)


message 14: by Aura (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aura I think your review is spot on. I liked it to.


message 15: by Tara Kelsey (new) - added it

Tara Kelsey Great review. Added to my TBR. :)


message 16: by Dai (new) - added it

Dai Tilley The first time I heard of this novel, I made a pact with myself to never, ever read it... Not because I don't think I would like it, but because the blurb said "Move over, Ove," and basically said the reason we should read this is because it's BETTER than A Man Called Ove. Well, I love Ove, I am quite petty on occasion, and I thus felt personally insulted. After seeing so many rave reviews, I think it's time for me to drag my petty self out of my pit of pettiness and read it!


message 17: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura I am so glad this turned out to be good. I was worried it would be stupid. Thanks for taking a chance on it.


message 18: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 25, 2017 09:49AM) (new)

You may deem Eleanor to be sad; but consider this. God was alone and then made the world; and just look what happened.

Perhaps of more contemporary significance; DFW was sad and then he got married; and just look what happened.


Emily May TightropeWalker wrote: "You may deem Eleanor to be sad; but consider this. God was alone and then made the world; and just look what happened.

Perhaps of more contemporary significance; DFW was sad and then he got marrie..."


I'm afraid I don't follow your comment. DFW killed himself because he suffered with depression for most of his life. I don't believe in God, nor do I understand what you were trying to say. Would you mind clarifying?


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

In this overly pretend-social world, there is much to be said for disdained solitude?


Emily May TightropeWalker wrote: "In this overly pretend-social world, there is much to be said for disdained solitude?"

There is nothing wrong with being alone - in fact, I am one of those people who greatly enjoys it - but that is not the same as being lonely. Eleanor is not happy for a variety of reasons, and she is lonely. I'm not merely assuming she must be sad because she is alone.


message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 25, 2017 02:17PM) (new)

Emily May wrote; "There is nothing wrong with being alone - in fact, I am one of those people who greatly enjoys it - but that is not the same as being lonely. Eleanor is not happy for a variety of reasons, and she is lonely. I'm not merely assuming she must be sad because she is alone."

Thank you for your usual well thought writings. It's difficult for me to explain that I'm completely convinced that we live in a time in which standard social norms have outpaced comfort, much in the way that science has outpaced morality.

It seems to me that it would b wonderful if Eleanor met someone she'd like to be with; but to perhaps feel compelled to satisfy her "loneliness" with someone there primarily to be there; is kind of silly.

This is not to say that this book and your review of it, do not reflect the world we live in. I think it does.


message 23: by Matt (new)

Matt A quick glance at the title and what I saw was "Nellie the Elephant" ... I had to do a double take! Nice review.


message 24: by Sagar (new)

Sagar Seriously girl, what do you do in life? How do you read so many books and have time to review them individually? You are a real person, right? Not a bot! Hahaha.


Karo'Line I love this book. I am a cross between Eleanor and the film character Amelie, so I really related to the character and her story! There are some of us out there who see ourselves in her 😊


Iryna *Book and Sword* I loved this book. So good.
Great review, as usual :)


Donna Your reviews are wonderful and I value them highly. I am adding this to my list. Sending best regards.. Enjoy your weekend. Donna


Laurie Reilly Great review! I especially agree with your view of the ending. I appreciate a book without a Disney ending. Also, what we learned about her mother was the icing on the cake for me. Super conclusion!


Lisa M.S. You are so right about the ending. Life is not a thirty minute sitcom where everything needs to be resolved quickly. It was organic, true to the characters and believable.


Steve Angelkov Hi Emily, I follow you and decided to read this debut novel based on your review. I read and really liked the rosie project, but felt this story was a little deeper, as funny and enjoyable. The characters and their interactions were also great. Really enjoy your reviews. keep them coming! steve.


message 31: by Ruby (new) - added it

Ruby Madden awesome review!


Savannah I completely agree with your review. I was not sure about the book when I first began, but it really took me by surprise.


Jennifer Stupid question but who was mummy on the phone? Was it made up?


message 34: by Anya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anya Zohrab Great review - and thanks for mentioning other books that might suit. I've read The Rosie Project but will look the others up. Jennifer - yes Mummy was in her mind only.


message 35: by Olivia (new)

Olivia Plot twist: she's autistic. Suddenly the book isn't good


Emily May Olivia wrote: "Plot twist: she's autistic. Suddenly the book isn't good"

The book never says that Eleanor is autistic. Her unusual social behaviour is typical of those with (view spoiler).


message 37: by Lillian (new)

Lillian Does this "She is socially clueless in a way that puts my teen self to shame" mean you are a teen? If you can write a sentence like that without 2 decades down, I wonder what you'll do when fully mature (e.g. age 35).


message 38: by Amra (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amra I thought this review was great and this book was one of my absolute favorites of this year, loved it! :)


Wanda I ask myself "what would a ferret do?"...I loved Eleanor


JAsmine Do you think would I enjoy it if I didn't like A Man Called Ove and Me Before You ? Finding Audrey is pretty interesting for me though


message 41: by Elizabeth J Bird (new)

Elizabeth J Bird Ok I am half way through, I think the writing is superbly executed, but for me this is quite a dark book. While there is humour reflecting back some of our cultural illogical behaviour. This women who definitely has traits from the autistic spectrum is also being bullied by a very cynical character of ‘mummy’ I find those conversations deeply disturbing as Eleanor’s self worth is manipulated and she is being psychologically abused. I will keep reading!


Jordan Singleton I read this book on your recommendation, and I am SO GLAD I DID. I agree with your entire review. This book has carved out a deep place in my heart.


Florencia Feels as if we’ll never be able to let go of her ❤️


Cristina I’m also so glad that the novel didn’t use romance as a way to “heal” Eleanor, especially since she was the victim of extreme neglect and abuse who clearly was still suffering from the consequences of those abuses. That’s not to say she doesn’t deserve a relationship, but I would have had trouble with the author using Ray as her savior via sexual relationship. I’m glad she was on her own journey here with the support of her true “pal”.


Evelin I rated the book as a "1" and could not bring myself to finish it. I skimmed some, got to why she is this way, what's being done, blah, blah, blah. Perhaps it's because I just finished another book on child abuse. Why was she not getting counselling right from the start? Why didn't the office workers see there was a problem. Instead they were bullies by being mean. The book didn't say she was on the telephone to her mom (up to where I tossed it) it just said Eleanor talked to her (see page 29). I'm surprised she waited so long to get a computer yet she works on one. I loved A Man called Ove - this does not compare at all.


Sanjeet I read and I cried. It triggered something inside me that I didn't even know existed. When I began reading it, Eleanor was someone I could sympathise with, but never relate to. A socially-awkward woman in her own bubble - nope, not in my boat. Until I read further, and further. And realised that this book is such an apt commentary on the biggest problem of our times - loneliness. We the generation of social media, internet and gadgets, have left behind human kindness. We are so wrapped up in our own little worlds that it takes us forever to realise that we are missing that deeper connect with other humans.

I loved this book, can't recommend it enough!


message 47: by Georgina (new) - added it

Georgina Looking forward to this one being a somewhat socially awkward person myself!


message 48: by Janice (new)

Janice Ryan JAsmine wrote: "Do you think would I enjoy it if I didn't like A Man Called Ove and Me Before You ? Finding Audrey is pretty interesting for me though"

Yes! It is better than both of them IMHO


DeeAnn Little bit of a spoiler there. 😕


message 50: by Kristinita (new) - added it

Kristinita Great review! Can’t wait to start this one!


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