Genre: Literary Fiction
A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive – but not how to live.
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.
No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine. But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be.
Trigger warnings: suicide, depression, and addiction
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is recommended for fans of The Rosie Project and Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I now know not to read those books.
The biggest issue I had with this novel is the writing style. Stream of consciousness writing is not for me. I find it tedious and annoying. It contains too many irrelevant intimate details about the main character’s thoughts and feelings. There are so many instances of information that goes on for pages that are ultimately useless. If he author had not written in a stream of consciousness style, I would have rated the novel four instead of three stars.
Eleanor as a character is okay. I found her unlikeable because I wasn’t able to identify with her on any level. She is too far removed from human interactions, so when she does speak with others it’s tense and awkward. By the end of the novel, she started to rub off on me, but not enough to redeem the novel as a whole.
The secondary characters, Raymond and Sammy, are delightful. I was better able to connect with them over Eleanor whenever they interacted.
What makes this novel worth reading is how mental illness is portrayed, more specifically depression, addiction, and loneliness. Eleanor’s issues are organic and are NOT used as a plot device. Eleanor lives her life as best she can and copes with her depression in the few ways she knows how. Depression presents itself differently in each person, so it was refreshing to see it displayed in a very non-stereotypical fashion.
Overall, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is not for everyone. The stream of consciousness writing style is a burden to the story being told thereby making Eleanor an unlikeable character that who is hard to identify with. However, the portrayal of mental illness in a breath of fresh air in an otherwise cloudy area filled with novels glorifying illness and using it as a plot device.
**I Received an ARC form the publisher in exchange for an honest review.