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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
GENRE: Mainstream Fiction
This is the story of Eleanor, a young woman who struggles to relate to others and is comfortable living her solitary, predictable life: comfortable, that is, until an act of kindness disrupts her routine and forces her from her self-imposed solitude. Perfect for readers who enjoyed A Man Called Ove.
Gail was born and raised in Stirling, Scotland. Her mother was as a civil servant and her father a scientist. Gail was an avid reader in her childhood, visiting the library “a ridiculous number of times a week” due to her passion for books.
She studied French language and literature at the Glasgow University and continued her education at the University of Oxford, starting a postgraduate course in French poetry. However, Gail realised that an academic career was not for her and she started a string of “backroom jobs”. She worked at first as a civil servant in economic development and then as an administrator at Glasgow University.
While working at Glasgow University, Gail enrolled in a Faber Academy writing course, writing the first three chapters of what would become Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Cambridge’s Lucy Cavendish College was running a competition for unpublished fiction by female writers and it was just what she was looking for to fulfill her lifelong passion for reading, so she submitted her work and the rest is history. The novel was published in 2017 and earned numerous awards, sold millions of copies, and received wide critical acclaim.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine won the 2017 Costa First Novel Award. When asked how much of Eleanor Oliphant was based on her own life, Gail has said “Eleanor Oliphant isn’t me, or anyone I know – but of course I’ve felt loneliness – everybody does”. In 2018 Gail revealed that she was working on a new novel which will be “set in a different period and location”. - Author's website
Move over, Ove (in Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove, 2014)--there's a new curmudgeon to love. Thirty-year-old Eleanor Oliphant leads a highly predictable life, working at an office, eating the same meals alone in her apartment, and spending her weekends regularly administering vodka (she usually goes without speaking to another human from the time she bids farewell to the bus driver on Friday until she greets another one on Monday). She is, as she regularly tells herself, fine. But when a chance encounter with a local musician sends her reeling into the throes of a full-fledged crush, her carefully constructed world breaks open. Soon she is embarking on a self-improvement program from the outside in, complete with shopping trips, manicure, makeup, and attempts at hairstyling. The real changes, however, are slowly taking place within, as she develops a friendship with a man from work and eventually learns the wonderful rewards that come to those who open their hearts. Walking in Eleanor's practical black Velero shoes is delightfully amusing, her prudish observations leavened with a privately puckish humor. But readers will also be drawn in by her tragic backstory, which slowly reveals how she came to be so entirely Eleanor. Witty, charming, and heartwarming, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a remarkable debut about a singular woman. Readers will cheer Eleanor as she confronts her dark past and turns to a brighter future. Feel good without feeling smarmy.--Bridget Thoreson
Eleanor Oliphant, the friendless 29-year-old finance clerk in a small Scottish graphics design firm, feels safest in the cocoon of strict routines both at work and at home. Unfazed by office gossip about her peculiarities (she acknowledges that her coworkers have a point), Eleanor's careful firewalls start to crack. She simultaneously develops a crush on a bar musician and is reluctantly drawn into a tentative friendship with Raymond, the new IT guy, and with Sammy, an older man whose life she and Raymond save. Without a shred of self-pity and lacking nearly all social skills (but willing to learn them) owing to her shocking, savage past, Eleanor is unaware of her ability to charm and inspire those who want to help her and those who grow to care for her. VERDICT Honeyman's exquisite, heartbreaking, funny, and irresistible novel brings to life a character so original and pitch-perfect that it is nearly impossible to believe this is a debut. Surprises abound as the author boldly turns literary expectations upside down and gives to her readers Eleanor Oliphant, who, yes, is completely, beautifully fine. [See Prepub Alert, 11/14/16.]—Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI --Beth Andersen (Reviewed 02/15/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 3, p78)
A very funny novel about the survivor of a childhood trauma. At 29, Eleanor Oliphant has built an utterly solitary life that almost works. During the week, she toils in an office—don't inquire further; in almost eight years no one has—and from Friday to Monday she makes the time go by with pizza and booze. Enlivening this spare existence is a constant inner monologue that is cranky, hilarious, deadpan, and irresistible. Eleanor Oliphant has something to say about everything. Riding the train, she comments on the automated announcements: "I wondered at whom these pearls of wisdom were aimed; some passing extraterrestrial, perhaps, or a yak herder from Ulan Bator who had trekked across the steppes, sailed the North Sea, and found himself on the Glasgow-Edinburgh service with literally no prior experience of mechanized transport to call upon." Eleanor herself might as well be from Ulan Bator—she's never had a manicure or a haircut, worn high heels, had anyone visit her apartment, or even had a friend. After a mysterious event in her childhood that left half her face badly scarred, she was raised in foster care, spent her college years in an abusive relationship, and is now, as the title states, perfectly fine. Her extreme social awkwardness has made her the butt of nasty jokes among her colleagues, which don't seem to bother her much, though one notices she is stockpiling painkillers and becoming increasingly obsessed with an unrealistic crush on a local musician. Eleanor's life begins to change when Raymond, a goofy guy from the IT department, takes her for a potential friend, not a freak of nature. As if he were luring a feral animal from its hiding place with a bit of cheese, he gradually brings Eleanor out of her shell. Then it turns out that shell was serving a purpose. Honeyman's endearing debut is part comic novel, part emotional thriller, and part love story. (Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2017)
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