17 Oct

Gail Honeyman's "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine," published in 2017, is a heartfelt and emotionally resonant novel that explores themes of loneliness, trauma, and the transformative power of human connection. The book has captured the hearts of readers around the world with its compelling narrative and the journey of its complex protagonist, Eleanor Oliphant. In this extensive 2000-word book review, we will delve into the novel's central themes, its beautifully crafted characters, and its impact on discussions surrounding mental health and the importance of reaching out to those in need.

Plot Summary

"Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" follows the life of its titular character, Eleanor Oliphant, a woman in her 30s living a meticulously organized and solitary existence in Glasgow. Eleanor's life is defined by routines and isolation. She works in an office job, maintains a carefully controlled budget, and spends her weekends alone, sipping vodka and eating frozen pizza.

Eleanor's past is marked by trauma, and she carries emotional and physical scars from a mysterious incident that occurred years ago. She has no friends, no social life, and no one to share her world with. Her conversations with her colleagues are brief and polite, and she is content with this arrangement. After all, she believes that she is completely fine.

However, Eleanor's carefully constructed facade begins to crack when she becomes infatuated with a local musician, Johnnie Lomond. Believing that a romantic relationship with Johnnie will solve all her problems, Eleanor embarks on a mission to transform herself into someone he would love.Her journey of self-improvement leads her to take small but meaningful steps to engage with the world and other people. 

This process includes seeing a therapist, Ray, and befriending Raymond Gibbons, a co-worker who becomes an unlikely but steadfast friend. As Eleanor's life opens up to new experiences and connections, the reader begins to unravel the painful truth about her past. The book skillfully intertwines the present narrative with Eleanor's recollections and diary entries, allowing readers to piece together the full extent of her trauma.

Throughout the novel, Eleanor's journey is one of healing, self-discovery, and the realization that it's okay not to be completely fine all the time. It is a powerful exploration of the human need for connection and empathy, and it offers a deeply moving and inspiring narrative about the importance of reaching out to those who may be silently suffering.


1. Loneliness and Isolation

The central theme of "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" is loneliness and isolation. Eleanor's life is marked by her deep sense of isolation and the walls she has built around herself. The novel explores the emotional toll of loneliness and the desire for human connection.

2. Trauma and Healing

The theme of trauma and healing is central to the narrative. Eleanor's past trauma and its impact on her life are slowly revealed throughout the book. Her journey toward healing is marked by the therapeutic process, self-discovery, and the importance of confronting one's past.

3. Human Connection

The transformative power of human connection is a central theme. The novel highlights the profound impact that reaching out to others and forming meaningful relationships can have on an individual's life. It underscores the importance of empathy and understanding.

4. Self-Discovery

Eleanor's journey of self-discovery is a significant theme. The novel delves into the process of self-improvement, self-acceptance, and the recognition that it's okay not to be completely fine all the time. It explores the complexities of self-identity and self-worth.

5. Mental Health

Mental health is a critical theme in the novel. Eleanor's struggles with her mental health are central to the narrative, and the book encourages conversations about seeking help, addressing trauma, and the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

6. Transformation and Growth

The theme of transformation and personal growth is woven throughout the story. Eleanor's journey from a solitary and damaged individual to a person who learns to connect with others and heal herself is a central focus of the narrative.


Eleanor Oliphant

Eleanor is the novel's protagonist and a deeply complex character. Her character undergoes profound development as she confronts her past, her loneliness, and her need for human connection. Her transformation is at the heart of the narrative.

Raymond Gibbons

Raymond is a co-worker who becomes an unlikely friend to Eleanor. His character represents the transformative power of friendship and the importance of reaching out to those in need.

Johnnie Lomond

Johnnie is a local musician who serves as Eleanor's initial romantic fixation. His character plays a central role in Eleanor's journey of self-improvement and her pursuit of connection.


Mummy is Eleanor's abusive and emotionally distant mother. Her character is a source of trauma in Eleanor's past, and her presence looms large in the narrative.


Sammy is a significant figure in Eleanor's past, and his character represents an important part of her history and the trauma she has experienced.


Laura is Eleanor's social services case worker. Her character provides a window into the bureaucratic and clinical approach to Eleanor's life and struggles.

Impact and Reception

"Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" has garnered widespread critical acclaim and has resonated with readers around the world. The book has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Costa Book Award for First Novel in 2017. The novel's exploration of loneliness, trauma, and the transformative power of human connection has sparked important discussions about mental health and the need for empathy and understanding. 

It has encouraged readers to reach out to those who may be silently suffering and to consider the significance of human connection in their own lives. The character of Eleanor Oliphant has become a symbol of resilience and hope for many, and the book has been embraced by book clubs, mental health organizations, and readers seeking narratives of healing and personal growth.


"Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman is a profoundly moving tale of healing and human connection, offering readers a poignant exploration of loneliness, trauma, and the transformative power of empathy. The novel's compelling narrative, characterized by its beautifully drawn characters and emotionally resonant storytelling, continues to captivate readers and inspire discussions about mental health and the importance of reaching out to those in need.

Honeyman's work has left an indelible mark on the literary landscape, encouraging authors to explore themes of loneliness, trauma, and personal growth in their own works. "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the healing power of human connection, leaving us eager to extend our own empathy and understanding to those who may be silently suffering. 

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