Book Review

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine


This is one of the most delightful books I’ve read in years – delightful, as in interesting, unusual, funny, heartrending, and, ultimately, as uplifting as it gets both in substance and style.

As I most often do summers, while driving the two-plus hours each way, to and from the lake each weekend, I listened to this book.  This is important to say at the start, because the audiobook reader definitely added a dimension to the book.  I assume that Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is wonderful to read in print alone.  But hearing Eleanor’s voice, hearing her intonation and expressiveness, hearing the Scottish twist to many of the voices of her compatriots, was extraordinary.

Eleanor Oliphant is a thirty-year-old social misfit for reasons we come to understand as the story unfolds.  She is exceedingly bright but quirky, a creature of habit, a young woman very much alone and apart in a world of normal people.  Though clearly damaged, Eleanor is so sweet, so innocent, so positively hilarious in her analysis of the world around her, that I came to adore her.  Yes, it took a chapter or two for me to grasp what her voice was about, but once that happened, I was addicted.  There were times when I smiled affectionately at her analyses, other times when I laughed aloud at the hilarity of them.  In her utter ignorance of social mores, she often hits reality spot on.  In that sense, we aren’t laughing at her, but with her.  And it feels good.

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