Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | Pastries & Paperbacks Book Club

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | Pastries & Paperbacks Book Club

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Genre: Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Length: 325 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: June 5, 2018
Child Abuse, Verbal Abuse, Physical Abuse,
Bullying, Minor Stalking, PTSD, Alcoholism,
Attempted Suicide, Rape (off-screen),
Death
Middle Eastern or Indian (not confirmed),
Depression, PTSD

So this was the first book that the brand new Pastries & Paperbacks Book Club with my local library had for their September read, and gosh darn it I ended up finishing it on time for the meeting! Boo yeah, Leelynn! If you’re in the Hampton Roads area like me, and want to join, here’s more information!

Eleanor is our main character. At first glance, I know I thought she was on the autism spectrum just from her mannerisms and her thoughts, but it is definitely much more than that. She is not conventionally attractive, knows this but it doesn’t matter to her. She is completely fine depending on herself and being alone. Her only real social interaction is at work, buying her pizza and vodka from the Tesco Mart, and whoever may sit next to her on the bus.

Raymond is one of the IT guys at Eleanor’s workplace. He seems to be one of the few people that wants to get to know her beneath her idiosyncrasies, and actually teaches her how to be – and have – friends. Eleanor is initially not impressed with his outside appearance and tried on more than one occasion to get him to stop talking to her.

On the surface, and from what Eleanor shows us in the beginning, she is very blunt and logical with her thought process. She will say what she is thinking, has no filter, and thinks that everyone around her is terrible with regular social cues. In fact, she feels like while everyone may think of her to be a nutter, she is the most sane person she knows. She has been living on her own since university, and has a strict routine that she sticks with. However, that ends up changing when her computer at work stops working, and she ends up meeting Raymond – the IT guy that helps her fix her computer. From there, things start to change, and she realizes that she’s actually not “completely fine” like she was trained to be.

I really liked that there were characters like Raymond, Sammy, and sometimes even Laura that realized that Eleanor thought differently from them, but didn’t immediately write her off as crazy. Sure, they may have thought it in the beginning, but they ended up learning how to interact with her, teaching her some of the things that she didn’t learn growing up, and became friends with her. It was a found family in a sense, and I don’t think Eleanor realized it until later on in the novel.

I liked that Eleanor was able to get help for what she needed help with, and even though some people felt like it was too easy of a ending or a fix, I think it was good for what it was. Sometimes the ending doesn’t need to be something profound or spectacular. Sometimes it just needs to show that you need to take certain steps to make yourself feel better, even if it seems like a logical option.

All of the abuse in this novel. I’m glad that I was able to read this without having certain thoughts like I thought I would. And seeing that Eleanor really suffered from PTSD and seeing that she used logic and reasoning to shield herself from experiencing real emotions, I could understand why she seemed cavalier about the abuse she endured. Not just from her Mummy, but from her ex-boyfriend Declan as well. When she is explaining what she went through to Raymond, she is just very factual about it and to the point. It almost makes Raymond cry to see what she goes through, but to Eleanor, it is a simple fact. No emotions about it.

I just felt like Eleanor was really misunderstood because of course – she repressed everything that happened from the incident. And it was just really hard to her bad days and know that it’s… a point that I have felt and thinking about what would have happened if things didn’t end up the way they did in the book. What if she truly was alone, and didn’t have Raymond in her life, even though she thought she didn’t want him as a pal?

Well I already gave the book back to the library so I could get the next book and I didn’t take notes this time around because I was trying to finish on time – which I freaking did… 4 minutes before the meeting started so boo yeah, leelynn.

But I guess a lot of the parts where she was thinking about how her Mummy would have thought and how her Mummy shaped her thought process and that it wasn’t correct. Those held a spot for me.

This is one of those books that I feel like there should have been content warnings somewhere in the beginning of the book. I know that Eleanor ends up mentioning it throughout the book – as much as she is willing divulge at the time anyway – but just knowing how she talks about the abuse that she went through was really hard to read. From the untrained eye, and maybe someone that doesn’t realize that she’s suffering from major PTSD would think that she was okay with abuse, being on the receiving end of abuse, and that it was just a normal thing. She may have even thought that, but for someone that is extremely triggered to the mention of physical, sexual, emotional abuse to hear someone speak so light about it may not have taken it lightly.

This was a hard book to read, and I definitely understand if certain people don’t like it. I think Reese Witherspoon wants to make a movie adaptation of this but wants to play Eleanor? I say no. She’s too conventionally pretty to play her. I would say she could play Laura or something if she really wants to be in it, but not Eleanor. Even though I read this one kind of fast, I don’t feel like I rushed through this, and I had a lot of thoughts about it at the end.

Ahh so wow, I feel like I should have recorded what happened at the meeting or something because we had a really good discussion! This was the first book and meeting for this new group, and it was such a great turnout! The library anticipated 10 people to join, and I think we had like 30 people discussing this book! It was amazing to see – although I was like the only POC in this group and I totally felt out of place – but I was able to make such great discussion points that I had to give myself a pat on the back. I would definitely go to the next meeting, and I’m excited to see what kind of other books they choose. I’m actually going to make some recommendations for some POC authors and books so we can get a better variety of books, not just celebrity book club choices. Nothing wrong with celebrity book club choices, but I want to read books that don’t get the kind of hype that others do.

I did bring up that I think there should have been some content warnings somewhere because of the abuse and the attempted suicide content in it, and there were people that attended – that didn’t read the book yet because our library didn’t have enough copies – that appreciated that heads up and said that it would have impacted their reading. I think this is so important, and I said that this is why I now am more intentional about including content warnings at the beginning of my reviews so people are aware from the get go as much as possible.

I guess I don’t really know what else to say about it! I didn’t take any other pictures because I’m still a little bit of an introvert in new groups like this, but the discussion went well. We were all civil and I didn’t see anyone thinking that someone else’s point of view was dumb or wrong or anything. I think our moderator did an amazing job leading the group – doesn’t hurt that she is a librarian and read the book twice so she was pretty knowledgeable on the book and the background of the author – and it was just a good group.

The venue that we are holding this group at was perfect and I love it so much. I think the only thing that bothered me a little bit – which I don’t know if they would have thought this way – is that they made a special “Eleanor” drink for the group which of course had vodka because that’s her favorite drink. However, that’s not just her favorite drink. That’s the drink that made her an alcoholic, and …. well spoilers. So I personally wouldn’t have chosen to make an alcoholic drink knowing that the main character suffered from alcoholism and that, but that’s just me. I may be reading too much into it. I didn’t try it.

Also since this was my favorite restaurant, I freaking ate so much food besides the free pastry that we got – which is pictured below (the cream puff) – that is not on their regular menu so you know I had to eat it. I had the mac & cheese snack, and a chifrijo bowl. I know. That was pretty much dinner and dessert and that helped since I didn’t really eat breakfast or lunch today. Or yesterday, for that matter.

Ha. I said I didn’t have much to say, but I feel like my recap of the meeting was longer than my review. Oops!

15 thoughts on “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | Pastries & Paperbacks Book Club

  1. I had never heard of this book until I saw you posting updates from Bookly on your Twitter and I’ve been super interested in checking it out! I don’t know why but I am always really intrigued by books that have the character’s full name in it? πŸ˜‚ Anyways, I’m so glad I read this review because now I know about all of content/possible triggers before going into it. I’m so glad you spoke up about the TW in your book club meeting!! I am so proud of you for that because you potentially helped so many people avoid triggers and that’s amazing! What books are you thinking of recommending to the book club? I think recommending novels by some POC authors like you said will definitely help broaden the types of books your club reads! Now I kind of want to join a book club… πŸ˜…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard of this book all over but never really wanted to read it. It wasn’t something that appealed to me because I -thought- I wasn’t much of a contemporary reader but I didn’t want to NOT read the first book at my book club so I read it. I don’t regret it, but I do know that I felt really upset reading about those triggering aspects and had to compartmentalize from what I was reading to what I was feeling for me to go on. I would take a break to just remember that this didn’t actually happen to Eleanor (like a real life Eleanor I mean). I definitely want to recommend something like The City of Brass, The Poppy War, Kingdom of Souls. If they stick to historical fiction and contemporary though, I’ll have to do more research on that. You should totally see if there are any good book clubs around your area! Or even offered at your library like this one is πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so glad that you’ve been reading and enjoying more contemporary books! They are my favorite and I love that you’re finding yourself liking them more! β™₯ I definitely think that I would have to go into this one carefully but now that I know all of the trigger/content warnings (thanks to you!), it helps to know what to expect! I hope they take your suggestions and work them in!! It would be great to add some diverse stories and characters to the group reading! I’m definitely going to start looking around to see if there are any book clubs for me to join. I think it would be really cool to join one!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I see what you mean. Sometimes if I’m not liking the audiobook, I’ll try a physical copy and then I’m able to get through it, or vice versa. I know this isn’t for everyone so I don’t even fault you for not finishing it. It did get uncomfortable at a lot of parts. A lot of people that I talked to felt like it was really quirky and happy and I didn’t get that vibe from it at all.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so welcome! And honestly I love when I read a review that doesn’t have the same thoughts as I do, because I’d rather hear from a different perspective on whether you like or don’t like something so I can see maybe what I may not have seen or thought of, you know? I’m so happy to share your review and I hope that more people read what you had to say about Eleanor ❀

      Like

  2. Omg you get to go to a real life book group!!! I’m so jealous. It sounds super interesting!!! And hells yes you need to get them reading diversely. Eleanor Oliphant is such a freaking cliched book group read these days. Push those people out of their comfort zones lol!!
    I didn’t really like this book. I mean it was alright but a bit meh…I’m quite clueless as to how it’s been hyped so much!!!
    Wonderful review Leelynn <3333

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my first bookclub with this group (it was also their first meeting and first book so a bunch of firsts!) and the schedule ended up working out for me! I’ve been in others but lately I haven’t been able to go to them because it’s either during work or another meeting that I have. I miss book clubs especially in person ❀ It was so nice to go to as a first one.

      Dude…. like I don't know how many times we need to bring up diversity at anything. I'm like… uhhhh? It should be kind of something you pay attention to already? But then again, I was the only POC there so I guess… yeah.

      There were some things I didn't like about it at all honestly. And yeah I felt like it was cliche as a book club read. I know I'm slowly getting into contemporary and stuff, but I like reading different stuff, you know?? LOL

      Thank you so much friend ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not sure I’ll like this book, but it’s one of those that I feel like I should try. Thank you for the content warnings, though. That confirms that when I read this one it will need to be a physical copy — it’s easier for me to read sensitive content for myself than to have someone else narrate it to me. It feels like I can gloss over it a little better if it gets too rough.

    It sounds like your book club meeting was a big win, though! And the food looks yummy. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there! I mean… I would say just be careful. I was honestly really upset when I read about the suicide attempt part, because it kind of felt really personal to me and brought back personal experiences. So just be careful, you know? I know people who won’t read this because of all the content warnings, and that’s totally okay. I wouldn’t want you to feel like you either wasted your time with it, or endangered your mental health just to read it. But I hope if you do read it, you can find something to appreciate about it, or not. I hope it’s worth your time ❀

      They did such an amazing job with their first meeting, and I'm so happy with the turnout! Outside people were saying that nobody goes to bookclubs anymore, and this totally proved the haters wrong!

      Like

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