Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Before I had the children, with every spare moment I got, you would find me curled up on the couch or tucked up in bed, completely engrossed in my latest novel. And even now, in the same way that I love to write, reading will always be one of my favourite ways to pass the time on the rare occasion I get a moment to myself.

This year I was so honoured to be asked to work alongside some fantastic bloggers and the Mumsnet team to join the 2018 Mumsnet Book Club. Running since 2007, the Mumsnet Book Club has seen monthly book reviews, live web chats with the authors and discussions with literary legends. If you’d like to join in, you can find out more about it here.

The first title for 2018 is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a debut novel by Gail Honeyman, winner of a Costa Book Awards for 2017, and from the very moment I started reading, during a luxurious child free train journey to London, I didn’t stop until I turned that very last page.

Eleanor Oliphant is a strange character, very set in her ways, sticking rigidly to her daily routine, and quite out spoken about her likes and dislikes. At first I found her quite irritating, hugely frustrating and so difficult to understand, but as the novel progressed and we start to understand the reasons behind Eleanor’s behaviour, that irritation fast turns to sympathy.

It turns out that Eleanor hasn’t had the greatest start in life, infact her childhood was really quite tragic, with a Mother who failed her on so many levels. We are given some clues into the events of her childhood with the prominent scar Eleanor has on her face, the vodka she drinks by the bottle, and the weekly phone calls with an abusive Mother who, despite her failings, Eleanor still desperately wants to please.

But the saddest thing for me, and one which I think we can all relate to on some level, is the recurring theme of loneliness. Eleanor describes that isolation with painful clarity, and there are times throughout the book where I could have wept, and often did, for a very misunderstood individual who is simply looking to experience a love she has been deprived of during her life so far.

“I took one of my hands in the other, tried too imagine what it would feel like if it was another person’s hand holding mine. There have been times when I felt that I might die of loneliness.”

And so when Eleanor sets her sights on the man of her dreams, she comes up with a plan – one she believes will bring her true happiness and finally the approval of her Mother. What she doesn’t foresee is that sometimes, even the best laid plans don’t come to fruition.

Throughout the course of the novel I went through a whole rollercoaster of emotions, from amusement to heartbreak all in the turn of a page, and yet it was the surprise twist at the end which really got me, so much so that I found myself wiping away my tears on the train and drawing a gasp as I realised I had been holding my breath all along.

I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I will say that Gail Honeyman draws in the reader in such a way that when you finish that final page, you are left feeling as though you have said goodbye to an old friend. Eleanor Oliphant is an extraordinary character living an ordinary life, and as far as heroines go, they don’t get much better than this.

“How brave are you prepared to be Eleanor?” Laura asked. This was the correct question. I am brave. I am brave, courageous, Eleanor Oliphant.”

You can buy the book here on Amazon priced at £3.99 >>> Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Debut Bestseller and Costa First Novel Book Award winner 2017

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131 Comments

  1. February 13, 2018 / 12:43 am

    I love finding gems like this one you’ve found! Lots of people have recommended Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to me lately, so it’s really lovely to see further validation and love for this book. I’ll most definitely check it out!

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:53 pm

      I hope you enjoy it Lily, it’s a great book! xx

  2. February 13, 2018 / 2:42 am

    Nice review! Eleanor Oliphant is an extraordinary character indeed. Will definitely check this out.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:52 pm

      I hope you enjoy it! xx

  3. February 13, 2018 / 5:42 am

    I hadn’t heard about Gail Honeyman before. But following your riveting recommendation, I couldn’t help but order Eleonor Oliphant just now. It’s going to be the perfect read for my upcoming trip 🙂

    Thanks!
    C

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:51 pm

      Ahh I am sure you will love it Carola! It’s such a good book! xx

  4. Hannah Denton
    February 13, 2018 / 8:45 am

    I’m the same too! I love nothing more than curling up on the sofa reading a good book!

    This sounds perfect! I’ve never heard of the author before reading this!

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      I hadn’t either Hannah but she is one to watch! I can’t wait for her next novel! xx

  5. February 13, 2018 / 9:24 am

    I’ve heard so much about this book. That I’ve started reading it, I’m also finding her irritating at the moment. I can’t read it quick enough to see what unfolds! I love books like this x

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      Ooh you will love it Laura!! It’s definitely up there now with my favourites! xx

  6. February 13, 2018 / 9:25 am

    I Used to read so much, I deffo need to start finding a bit of time for myself to curl up with a good book! Love the sound of this book, I’d never heard of it before now! x

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      Im the same but when I get a good book I just can’t stop reading! xx

  7. February 13, 2018 / 9:35 am

    As much as I want to read a book too, I always being caught up something else. This year, I want to atleast finish one book every month. I hope I can do it. Hopefully I could read this book as well.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:49 pm

      I recommend it Anosa, I read it from start to finish in a day! xx

  8. February 13, 2018 / 10:14 am

    This book sounds great – truth be told I have barely read a book since I had kids. I LOVE reading but rarely find the time. I want to change that.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:48 pm

      Ahh this is a great book to start with then Sarah, you won’t be able to put it down! xx

  9. February 13, 2018 / 10:39 am

    This is the type of book I love to read, I really do need to find time to sit and read properly, I get so engrossed when reading and go through all the emotions too. I need to read this to see if she really does have a happry ending

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:47 pm

      I can’t recommend it enough Samantha, I didn’t see the ending coming AT ALL! xx

  10. February 13, 2018 / 10:54 am

    I am trying to find time to do more reading this year, as I used to be such a book worm but had pushed it to the side as I adjusted to becoming a parent. I quite like the sound of this book, and at £3.99 it is amazingly priced! I think I’ll add it to my list for this year

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:46 pm

      It’s a fab book Kim, probably the best I have read in a long time! xx

  11. February 13, 2018 / 10:58 am

    I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this book, it sounds like one to really draw you in. I’m always saying I can’t find time for reading, but I do tend to devour books, and I have a few train journeys (alone – bliss!) coming up which would be the perfect opportunity.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:45 pm

      Oh yes you should Katy! I read the whole thing on the way there and back! xx

  12. February 13, 2018 / 11:30 am

    I love books that I get so heavily invested in. This sounds like one where I would get involved in their entire world.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:45 pm

      Yes! I felt like I just couldn’t stop reading! xx

  13. February 13, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    Oh I’m looking for some book inspiration and this sounds perfect! Now to find some time to read it….

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      Haha yes! I managed to read the entire book on a train, there and back, to London! xx

  14. February 13, 2018 / 3:17 pm

    Oh this sounds lovely. I do like a good book but hardly get the time anymore. Before kids I was like you and always had a book in my hand x

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      It’s a fab book, definitely gone down as one of my favourites! xx

  15. bryanna skye
    February 13, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    I’ve been struggling finding the time or energy to read for fun, but this makes me want to get back into reading again!

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 5:50 pm

      Every time I read a good book I wonder why I don’t find the time to read more these days! xx

  16. Joanna
    February 13, 2018 / 4:59 pm

    It sounds like a great novel with a really interesting plot. No wonder you couldn’t let it go from your hands until you’ve finished it. I will look on Amazon for it, I’d like to read it.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 5:50 pm

      It’s a great book Joanna, Im sure you would enjoy it! xx

  17. February 13, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    I haven’t heard of this book but it sounds like Eleanor is quite the character. It’s such an exhilarating experience when a book pulls you in so deeply that you can’t stand to sit it down

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 5:49 pm

      I totally agree. That’s the sign of a great book isn’t it? xx

  18. February 13, 2018 / 6:45 pm

    Interesting how you originally found the main protagonist to be quite irritating and annoying Laura, but that she grew on you as you read further on. This sounds like the kind of book I might struggle with at the beginning, I’ll be honest, but I’d probably persevere (as never like to leave a book unfinished, however much I hate it haha!) and end up quite liking it. Will have to look for it in the shops! x

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:24 pm

      Yes! The first few pages I was thinking it might be hard going, and then hours later I realised I had devoured the entire book from start to finish and time had just stood still! I recommend it! xx

  19. February 13, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    I hear you, once you envelop yourself in a book and are free from no distractions you can lose yourself in a world that is separate from your own reality. I always read when I am on the tube/train/ bus as its a great way to pass the time and I do like the sound of Gail’s book and like you said we can all identify with the recurring theme of ‘isolation’ as that is a feeling I am sure we are all familiar with.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:23 pm

      I love reading on the train, there’s something so relaxing about escaping with a book with the movement of a train. I lose all sense of time, which isn’t always a good thing when I nearly miss my station! xx

  20. February 13, 2018 / 7:13 pm

    This book sounds like a great read. Especially as you said that we get to learn more about the character through the book. It’s so cheap at 3.99 as well.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:22 pm

      I know! I can’t get over how cheap it is! xx

  21. February 13, 2018 / 7:41 pm

    She sounds like a very curious character. How intriguing. I can relate to having far less time to curl up with a book.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:22 pm

      She is, but she’s the best heroine I’ve discovered in a long time! xx

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:21 pm

      Me too, it’s hard when you have kids! xx

  22. February 13, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    This sounds like a great book, there is something about a read that can bring about pure emotions in you. You know you have hit on a gem then and it sounds like she has been getting recognition all around for her debut.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:21 pm

      Yes definitely! For a debut novel she has really made a huge impact! xx

  23. February 13, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    I’m not usually a big fan of reading book reviews, but I think it’s perhaps because they just weren’t my sort of book. You’ve made this book sound so good, right up my street, I’m going to grab a copy!

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:20 pm

      Thanks Sarah! I absolutely loved it and I think you will too! xx

  24. February 13, 2018 / 10:33 pm

    I love reading novels and how they take me to a place where my imagination does wonders😂. I haven’t heard of this book, but I’m very interested in reading it as it sounds great.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:16 pm

      Me too Irena, its a great way to escape too! xx

  25. February 13, 2018 / 10:54 pm

    I have been hearing SO MUCH about this book recently – and your review has given me the push I need to go and buy it! Can’t wait to read, and I have a couple of train journeys this week I can fully utilise! Thanks Laura.

    • Laura Dove
      February 13, 2018 / 11:16 pm

      Oh that’s great! I’m sure you will love it Holly! xx

  26. February 14, 2018 / 4:46 am

    She sounds like such an interesting and raw character! I honestly can’t remember the last time I had time to read a book but I’ll put this on my list.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:15 pm

      She really is, I absolutely loved her by the end! xx

  27. February 14, 2018 / 5:19 am

    Oh Laura, good for you for joining a book club. I used to belong to one years ago and really miss it. Not only reading stories that I wouldn’t normally, but the group of women was wonderful. (ps: I should really go back) But on to the book .. I haven’t read this one, but it sounds like a story I’d love. I read a couple last year where I too felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend when I turned the last page. That must be a sign of a really good book! x

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:15 pm

      It’s my first book club but I am really enjoying it. It’s hard sometimes to find a moment to read but this way it forces me to make that time! I agree, when you feel bereft at saying goodbye to an old friend, that’s when you know the novel was a real success! xx

  28. February 14, 2018 / 6:43 am

    I used to adore reading when I was younger but since then I haven’t been able to find a good enough book that keeps me entertained. I think I might give this one a go! Thank you 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:14 pm

      I loved it Hannah, it’s had rave reviews! xx

  29. February 14, 2018 / 7:18 am

    I guess indeed this is a great book. Reading it in just one day makes me realize how good it is as you cannot let go of it and just want to finish reading it.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:13 pm

      Yes I think that’s the sign of a great book! xx

  30. February 14, 2018 / 8:15 am

    This book sounds like a great read. I have not heard of this author before though.. All I need is my couch to curl up and read such an interesting book. Thank you for sharing a great review.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:13 pm

      It’s her debut novel but I really hope it wont be her last! xx

  31. February 14, 2018 / 8:17 am

    I think I may relate to Eleanor Oliphant’s characteristics such as being so outspoken about likes and dislikes and sticking to a routine, sounds like me haha. I am truly curious about this books and I will look for a copy on Amazon Kindle and read it, it sounds compelling.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:13 pm

      Haha I think we all have a little bit of Eleanor in us! Enjoy! xx

  32. February 14, 2018 / 9:18 am

    Books have always being my favorite story tellers. They make the most impact. Will get a copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Tho it’s mostly historical story telling books i read, it will be my first novel to read.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:12 pm

      Oh I really hope you enjoy it then! xx

  33. February 14, 2018 / 10:02 am

    I don’t find as much time to read anymore and I don’t even have kids. Sounds like a good book x

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:12 pm

      It’s so hard to find a moment these days isn’t it? xx

  34. Jemma
    February 14, 2018 / 10:16 am

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine sounds like an awesome book. I’m trying to read more this year, so will check it out.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:11 pm

      I hope you like it! xx

  35. February 14, 2018 / 11:15 am

    I think this is the book my wife is reading currently having heard so much about it.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:11 pm

      Oh I hope she is enjoying it! xx

  36. February 14, 2018 / 11:15 am

    I am always on the look out for a new read so I may have to give this one a go, as sounds like an interesting read x

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 12:10 pm

      I definitely recommend it Melanie! xx

  37. February 14, 2018 / 12:27 pm

    I have seen a few people mentioning this book recently and it really does sound fantastic! I can’t wait until my little girl discovers a normal bedtime routine and I can find time to pick up a book again!

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:22 pm

      Haha yes Jess! I’m so relieved mine finally sleep!! xx

  38. February 14, 2018 / 12:59 pm

    Lovely post-Laura. I have got out of the habit of reading books since I started blogging but really need to start and get back into reading again. You have me intreated in looking for this book now 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:22 pm

      Yes I think I sacrificed reading for my blog for a while but now I really try and make an effort to do it! Im sure you would like it! xx

  39. February 14, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    I really want to read this book now – just reading your review I feel similarities between Eleanor and her mother’s relationship and my own life’s story. I bet it would take me on an emotional rollercoaster though! Great review!

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:21 pm

      Ahh Elizabeth, perhaps it would but it’s always nice to be able to relate to a character isn’t it? xx

  40. February 14, 2018 / 1:39 pm

    Sounds like an interesting read.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:19 pm

      It was great Leta! xx

  41. February 14, 2018 / 2:13 pm

    I love a book that draws you in, and you can’t put it down. This sounds like one of those. Nice to have a good read recommended.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:19 pm

      I loved it Jen, so interesting! xx

  42. February 14, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    I am on the hunt currently for a good new book and this sounds like just the treat.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:19 pm

      It’s a great book! xx

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:18 pm

      Thank you! xx

  43. February 14, 2018 / 7:34 pm

    I managed to rediscover my love of reading last year, even if it is just for half an hour before I fall asleep. This book sounds good and as I’m looking for a good fiction one I might snap it up!

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:13 pm

      Ooh you should Cath, its fab! xx

  44. February 14, 2018 / 7:36 pm

    This is one of the books on my reading list, added at the bottom after I had spoken to a friend who had read it

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:13 pm

      Its a great read Sarah, I don’t know anyone who didn’t like it! xx

  45. February 14, 2018 / 8:17 pm

    I love reading and this sounds right up my street! Brill review and fab summary of the book! Next treat from me to me!

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:12 pm

      Thanks Kayleigh, I hope you like it! xx

  46. February 14, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    This looks and sounds so so good. I definitely think I need to add it to my reading list for the year.

    • Laura Dove
      February 14, 2018 / 9:12 pm

      I really do recommend it! xx

  47. February 15, 2018 / 6:25 am

    Heard so many good things about this book and (sadly) really resonate with the quote about holding hands you have included this! I’ll have to get this for myself asap!

    • Laura Dove
      February 15, 2018 / 10:42 am

      Ahh Laura, it’s a theme that many of us can relate to I’m sure. Lots of love xxx

  48. February 15, 2018 / 7:30 am

    I’m a fan of reading . I usually search for inspirational books . I think I’ll find some inspiration in this book too. Thanks for a good read.

    • Laura Dove
      February 15, 2018 / 10:42 am

      It’s a great book and it really does inspire you too. xx

  49. February 15, 2018 / 9:07 am

    I love finding books that give you real and strong emotions, so thank you for the recommendation, I will certainly look it up! Nice review 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      February 15, 2018 / 10:41 am

      Thanks Samantha, me too! xx

  50. February 15, 2018 / 12:52 pm

    I have never heard of Mumsnet Book Club before, it sounds so interesting! Really enjoyed reading your review, I need to read this book now x

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 8:23 pm

      It’s been going for years, I’m so pleased to be taking part! xx

  51. February 15, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    Reading is the one thing I miss most about being a Mum – I just dont have time to fit it in. However we have a little holiday planned for this half term so I am planning to spend less time on social media and more time with a good book. I have seen lots of great reviews about this one so I am going to give it ago!!

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:53 pm

      Me too Natalie! I used to go through one book after another, now I have to get my reading in when I can! Have a lovely holiday! xx

  52. February 15, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    That is me now!When I’m not on my blog, then I’m glued to the latest novel..I’d read a complete one in a day. And I’m so glad you’re giving me the title of my next book in line. I’d love to know how Eleanor handles her loneliness…that can be a problem for me at times. Loved reading this! Hugs!

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:52 pm

      Ahh Dalene, I think there is a little Eleanor in all of us. I hope you enjoy it! xx

  53. February 15, 2018 / 3:21 pm

    Sounds like a great book – love the simple cover. Glad you enjoyed reading it – sounds like a cool character.

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:52 pm

      Thanks Rachel! xx

  54. February 15, 2018 / 7:48 pm

    wow what a remarkable character is Eleanor! I love reading about raw characters with very complicated lives, and figuring out how they became who they are. Going to definitely check this book out.

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:49 pm

      Me too, especially complex characters like Eleanor! xx

  55. Sarah Ann
    February 15, 2018 / 8:38 pm

    I love the sound of this book! I’m always looking for new, undiscovered books to read and I’ve added this one to my list.

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:48 pm

      Ah fab! I’m sure you will enjoy it! xx

  56. February 15, 2018 / 10:13 pm

    Awesome review! will love to check this out as soon as am done with things fall apart.

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:48 pm

      Thank you! xx

  57. February 15, 2018 / 10:49 pm

    I have just joined a book club I will have to recommend this book to them.

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:47 pm

      Oh great! I’m sure it would be a huge hit! xx

  58. February 15, 2018 / 11:53 pm

    It sounds like a really interesting book and you make it sound like a complete page turner. I adore reading so I’ll keep an eye out for this. Mich x

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:47 pm

      It’s such a page turned Michelle! I’m going to read it again! xx

  59. Dannii
    February 16, 2018 / 9:15 am

    I saw someone else post about this on Instagram and I added it to my wishlist. It looks like such a good read.

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      I think everyone is talking about it Danni!! xx

  60. February 16, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    This book sounds so good!! Thank you for sharing. I love a good recommendation. Adding this to my wish-list right now!

    • Laura Dove
      February 16, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      It’s fab Lauren, I hope you enjoy it! xx

  61. February 17, 2018 / 9:14 pm

    I miss reading but feel like I’d be crying all the time with my heightened parent emotions haha!

    • Laura Dove
      February 18, 2018 / 12:30 pm

      Haha that’s so me Kerry! xx

  62. February 18, 2018 / 1:41 pm

    Great review of this book. It sounds good and that fact it made you cry too….just of drawn you in!

    • Laura Dove
      February 18, 2018 / 1:48 pm

      Yes! I think that’s a great sign of a good book! xx

  63. February 18, 2018 / 7:29 pm

    It sounds like such an intriguing plot!

    I really want to make more time for reading this year.

    • Laura Dove
      February 19, 2018 / 1:46 pm

      Its a great book Jenna! xx

  64. February 19, 2018 / 9:36 pm

    I saw someone talking about this book on Instagram recently. Sounds like a good one!

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