VERGE REVIEWS: ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE BY GAIL HONEYMAN

It is a universally known that everyone is odd in their own way. People may appear to be a bit bonkers, a bit strange and a little bit different in comparison to what society perceives as normal. However, who said that society’s ‘normal’ is normal.  What I deem to be normal may be completely bizarre to another person and vice versa. But is that not the beauty of being a human being, individuality?

The novel ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’ by Gail Honeyman delves into the complex life of one rather strange individual. Throughout the book we become conflicted with Eleanor’s personality and eccentric outlook on life. We learn to understand why she behaves in a certain manner and sometimes even become frustrated by her ignorance, whilst falling deeper in love with her complexities.

As a reader we fall in love with this modern quirky and lovable character and we begin to relate to certain aspects of her life.

‘When people ask me what I do – taxi drivers, dental hygienists – I tell them I work in an office. In almost nine years, no one’s ever asked what kind of office, or what sort of job I do there. I can’t decide whether that’s because I fit perfectly with their idea of what an office worker looks like, or whether people hear the phrase works in an office and automatically fill in the blanks themselves- lady doing photocopying, man tapping at a keyboard.’ (p.3)

The beginning of this novel absolutely captures the stereotypical London office worker within the first page. Gail Honeyman demonstrates through Eleanor that we all have tendencies to learn how to survive in life but not how to live it. However, as Eleanor develops an unexpected crush, she realises just how sideways her life had become and how ‘no one was supposed to live like this’ (p.232)

The novel is intriguing and definitely identifies important aspects of society’s relationship with mental health.  It captures society’s paranoia of being labelled as weird, an outsider whilst delivering a first- hand account of a woman struggling to live life.