I’d heard about “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” for ages, but when it turned up in a little free library, it seemed that that was a sign that it was time for me to read it.
Eleanor is 30, works a boring secretarial-type job, and leads a very introverted, introspective life. Her speech is extremely literal, and I’m not sure if this is her personality type, something more (is she on the autism spectrum?), or whether it’s due to abuse suffered as a child. The book’s tone is definitely different; it’s described various places as being really humorous, but I found it more dark than funny.
Eleanor’s mom was truly awful and abused her daughters. Eleanor is living with the results of that. Along the way, nice guy Raymond comes into her life. I never warmed up too much to Eleanor, but I loved Raymond. He was such a genuinely nice guy, and wondered if in real life he would be as kind to Eleanor as he was. His mom was equally great: “She was, quite simply, a nice lady who’d raised a family and now lived quietly with her cats and grew vegetables. This was both nothing and everything.”
The overall story is of the healing Eleanor experiences as she learns that there is more to life than the very narrow existence she has led so far, and she considers that maybe there is more possible in life than to be “completely fine.” I felt that the book dragged a bit in the final third, but it is well-written. I enjoyed “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” overall and would recommend it.