Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

It is only May, but I could easily give you my five favorite books of 2018, Eleanor Oliphant included. I am on a roll.

To start, I listened to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine on Audible, and it was a delightful experience in account of Cathleen McCarron’s impeccable accent and narration. I went on handfuls of long runs while listening to this book without a care for the distance. The story is solid, but the narration on its own is a delight. (Take a listen to the sample preview, if you have a moment.) 

Thirty-year-old Eleanor Oliphant is an unusual, quirky person. Put plainly, she’s awkward and not consistently suited for all social interactions. She speaks bluntly and struggles to understand why certain social norms exist. We don’t know a lot about Eleanor at the start of the book, but we know she lives alone, works in the accounting department at a design firm, and is burdened by less-than-lovely conversations with her mother. She exists rather than lives.

The plot charges forward when Eleanor is thrust into a predicament. She and co-worker Raymond see an old man collapse on the street and Eleanor struggles to navigate appropriate responses. Through this unscheduled event, Eleanor and Raymond develop a friendship, or at least, a consistent interaction that Eleanor eventually perceives as a friendship. 

As the narrative unfolds, we learn that Eleanor has the sort of tragic past one reads about in the newspapers. Buried memories begin to surface and it isn’t pretty.

Though some of the subject matter, as it pertains to Eleanor’s upbringing and early 20s, isn’t funny at all, the book is a near riot. I was the goofball giggling to herself along the Greenway somewhere between seven and ten miles. Gail Honeyman nailed character development. She built a whole, believable, endearing woman with words and inference.

I highly, highly recommend this one.

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