A review of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Reviewed by Emily McDonell

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
By Gail Honeyman
Penguin/Random House
Paperback, $16 aud, Jun 05, 2018, ISBN 9780735220690

Before starting this book, I was aware of the countless awards and incredible reviews given to this debut novel and as you can imagine, my expectations were high. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is an incredible novel and my expectations were lived up to, indeed. Although considered an ‘adult’ read the text can be suitable for young adults, dependant on the readers taste and other sensitivities to certain themes. Gail Honeyman creates such marvellous characters who once only a few pages into the book, I felt like I’d known them for years. In focus, the protagonist, Eleanor Oliphant herself. Again, the author uses impeccable expression and techniques incorporated seamlessly into Eleanor’s relationships and communication with others as well as the reader. 

We get a sense of Eleanor’s characteristics and personality very early on in the book. We discover her behaviours, habits and her strict routine which she has followed every day for many years. Eleanor it seems is happy and content with her life, until certain occurrences and phone calls…

During the book, we meet other characters including Raymond, the IT guy at Eleanor’s office, who we also get to know with Eleanor. The pair’s relationship and character development, traits and views on the world is wonderful and you can easily be absorbed in Honeyman’s writing and sharp dialogue and plot. Messages of loneliness, love, grieve and mental health are spread throughout and are incorporated within the story, personally I think this element makes the story especially memorable. This and the immaculate characters the author has designed again makes the read that more enticing. 

Others I know weren’t as keen on this book, and I will admit that at times the book is confronting and unexpected. I highly recommend persevering and continuing reading. In terms of audience, like I previous alluded to, with any book it depends on your personal taste, I would suggest 16+ for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Certain topics are raised within this book, which the creator has done extremely well in regard to ‘romanticisation’ of important issues. She has highlighted the good and bad moments of Eleanor’s life through the course of the book and often alludes to the seriousness of specific factors in Eleanor’s life. Although this novel has been hyped immensely by others, I would have to say it is one of my favourites of the year and will definitely be sticking with me. 

About the reviewer: Emily McDonell was first prize winner in the Hunter Writers’ Centre/Compulsive Reader book review competition. She is a high school student, an avid reader and has a passion for books. It was clear from a very early age that books would play a large part in her life. Emily has participated in the Premier’s Reading Challenge since starting her schooling and her favourite subject is English. Emily has also been a Girl Guide for the past nine years and is currently working to complete her Queen’s Guide Award. Emily also loves animals especially her dog Jersey.

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