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Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine a novel
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Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.


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A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

"Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!" --Reese Witherspoon

No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

Author Notes

An aspiring author from Glasgow and the recipient of Scottish Book Trust's Next Chapter Award 2014, GAIL HONEYMAN is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2014 and is Honeyman's debut novel; she is now working on her second book of an equally quirky nature. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Reviews 7

Publisher's Weekly Review

Eleanor Oliphant is 30 years old and profoundly lonely, working in a dead-end job and stuck in an endless routine. At the start of the story, she seems to merely be socially awkward-she is overly blunt and truthful in a way people find off-putting, she doesn't grasp social cues or pop culture references, and she takes everything literally. Then she and her coworker Raymond unexpectedly help an old man who has collapsed, the three form an odd friendship, and Eleanor begins to open up about her traumatic past. Narrator McCarron gives an award-worthy performance: her Eleanor is by turns comical in her obliviousness to basic things and utterly heartbreaking in discussing her past. Her narration is nuanced, conveying both Eleanor's surface facade of "everything's fine" and all the subtle layers of repressed pain and trauma underneath. It's a performance that will stay in listeners' minds long after the story is over. A Viking/Dorman hardcover. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* 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 Velcro 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.--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2017 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, by Gail Honeyman. (Penguin, $16.) Eleanor, the socially awkward, terrifically blunt heroine of this quirky novel, is a loner, spending her weekends alone with vodka and frozen pizzas. But a blossoming romance with her office's I.T. specialist, Raymond, and their friendship with an elderly man help stave off isolation, opening them all up to the redemptive power of love. THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. (Flatiron, $17.99.) The author's work as an intern at the firm that defended an accused murderer and pedophile compels her to re-examine her own past abuse. She devotes herself to finding parallels between her molestation by her grandfather and the firm's client, and indicts what she sees as society's refusal to acknowledge wicked acts. MADE FOR LOVE, by Alissa Nutting. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $15.99.) After Hazel's husband - a wealthy, manipulative tech visionary - implants a chip into her brain, she leaves him, showing up at her father's senior living community to stay with him and his sex doll. As our reviewer, Merritt Tierce, put it, the novel "crackles and satisfies by all its own weird rules, subversively inventing delight where none should exist." THE OUTER BEACH: A Thousand-Mile Walk on Cape Cod's Atlantic Shore, by Robert Finch. (Norton, $16.95.) Finch, a nature writer, shares 50 years of observations from a stretch of shoreline. The book, arranged chronologically from 1962 to 2016, devotes a chapter to each place up the shore; our reviewer, Fen Montaigne, wrote that "Finch artfully conveys what is, at heart, so stirring about the beach: how its beauty and magisterial power cause us to ponder the larger things in life and drive home our place in the universe." OUT IN THE OPEN, by Jesús Carrasco. Translated by Margaret Juli Costa. (Riverhead, $16.) In this bleak, dystopic debut novel, a young boy flees his tormentors and family's betrayal into a parched, unnamed land. When he is joined by an old goatherd, the pair recalls Don Quixote as they make their way through a merciless world, trying to evade cruelty. Faced with suffering, the novel asks, will we respond with grace? I WAS TOLD TO COME ALONE: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad, by Souad Mekhennet. (St. Martin's Griffin/Henry Holt, $17.99.) As a Muslim of Moroccan descent raised in Germany, Mekhennet, a Washington Post reporter, has been able to access inner circles of Islamic militants. Her book takes readers into the world of jihadi recruiters and their targets, and assesses the risk the West faces.

School Library Journal Review

Office worker Eleanor adheres to a strict routine that has insulated her from the memories of her traumatic childhood but has not shielded her from loneliness. But after she meets Raymond, she attempts to rediscover her memories and in the process learns how relationships (including those with friends, lovers, and colleagues) operate and that other people can be a source of joy rather than destruction. Readers may find Eleanor odd at first but will feel compassion and root for her as she grapples with severe depression and her painful childhood. Though the novel deals with dark themes, quirky Eleanor's firm bond with Raymond and their adventures lighten the tone. Teens will be spellbound as Eleanor unravels the mystery of her past and develops a sense of self. -VERDICT For those seeking a dramatic page-turner combined with a whimsical love story.-April Sanders, Spring Hill -College, Mobile, AL © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Guardian Review

The Costa award-winning debut novelist on the kindness of Glasgow and becoming a full-time writer in her 40s Gail Honeyman arrives in London trailing a wheelie-case, having travelled from Glasgow on a plane that was supposed to leave at 7am, but was delayed by the freezing weather. As we take the escalator up to liberate her of the case for a photocall, we muse on the peculiarity of a –7C ground frost stranding a plane which regularly flies at air temperatures of –40C. In ways that only those who have found themselves sucked into her award-winning debut novel will truly understand, this is an Eleanor Oliphant moment: it enfolds a stressful experience, stoically borne, in the beady intelligence of a woman who is rarely seen in public without a trolley-bag. The comparison has less to do with Honeyman herself than with the capacity of her writing to make everything seem a little bit strange, slightly dislocated from its face value. The protagonist of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is in some ways a classic unreliable narrator, reminiscent of Zoë Heller’s spinster schoolteacher from Notes on a Scandal or any number of girls on a train. But whereas most such narrators exert a sinister control on the perspective and plot of the novels in which they appear, Eleanor is immediately revealed as an eccentric, pratfalling her way through the early chapters, apparently oblivious to the way her foibles appear to those around her, even as she reports the conversations she has overheard. She shores herself up with ritual (The Archers on weekday evenings, two bottles of vodka at the weekend) and barricades herself behind a comic formality of thought and speech, while harbouring an adolescent crush on a singer known only to her through his Twitter feed. The character grew, Honeyman explains, out of a newspaper article she read years earlier about the problem of loneliness. “At the time it was something that wasn’t discussed much and when it was, it was usually in the context of older people who are widowed or whose families have moved away.” She was particularly struck by an interview with a woman in her 20s who confessed that after leaving work on a Friday night she often wouldn’t talk to anyone until she returned on Monday morning. “I started to think how could that be the case, and I realised there were lots of ways people could end up leading that sort of life through no fault of their own.” As Eleanor herself puts it, in a rare moment of self-pity: “These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted.” If Eleanor’s story is about the long-term cost of bad things happening, Honeyman’s is in part about the short-term cost – in terms of public interest in her private life – of good things happening. She admits to having grown up in a village in central Scotland, midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, but, when pressed about her background or her personal life, clams up. It simply hasn’t occurred to her that such questions might be relevant. It takes a mid-interview phone call to her parents to reassure her that it’s OK to mention what they did for a living: her mother was a civil servant and her father worked in a science lab, both are now retired. There was no history of writing in the family, and she and her younger brother went to the local state school. “There’s really no mystery. It’s all very ordinary.” Honeyman went on to read French language and literature at Glasgow University and then set off for a postgraduate degree at Oxford with the intention of becoming an academic, but decided in her 20s that the scholarly life was not for her. Returning to Scotland, she settled down to backroom jobs, first as a civil servant specialising in economic development and then as an administrator at the university where she had once studied. She had shown an aptitude for writing at school and had always had a pipe dream of becoming a writer, but it wasn’t until her 40th birthday that she made the decision that it was now or never. “It was such a cliched thing to do – either that or go off and do a bungee jump,” she says. She joined a writing group and started producing short stories, “because though in some ways short fiction is harder, it seemed more manageable”. When Eleanor’s voice began to speak to her, she captured it in three chapters, which she submitted to a competition for unpublished fiction by female writers run by Cambridge’s Lucy Cavendish College. “I was incredibly lucky because three chapters was what they were looking for.” Though she didn’t win, one of the judges was a literary agent who liked it enough to sign her up. Honeyman finished the novel in the evenings and in her lunch breaks and was so intent on “managing my expectations” that she was away on holiday in France when her agent decided it was ready to send out to publishers. I think there are a lot of Raymonds in the world – ordinary, kind, decent men who don’t often get featured in fiction Her editor at HarperCollins, Martha Ashby, takes up the story: “I went into a side office and started reading it on my Kindle and it was one of those books that you could just immediately tell was really special,” she says. Her colleagues shared her enthusiasm – as did seven other publishers who joined a hastily convened auction, which soared to six figures in four rounds of bidding. On the final day, Honeyman was confined to her hotel in Carcassonne while the competing editors called her up to make their cases and find out more about the unknown writer on whom they were about to bet the corporate silver. When results came through, late on Friday afternoon, Ashby, who had been fighting a heavy cold, was sitting in a station waiting for a train. “I remember screaming on the platform and then sitting down on the train and realising that I was really quite poorly. It was the biggest auction I’d ever done.” For Honeyman it was the start of a period of editing and revising which she found she enjoyed as much as the writing itself. She handed in her notice at work and embarked on the life of a full-time author, a move which, she wryly remarks, returned her to the library life that she gave up in her 20s because she found it too isolating – “but I suppose what doesn’t look fun at 22 can be fun when you’re 42”. By the time the novel arrived on the shelves it had already built up a head of steam, selling in 30 countries and being snapped up for a film by Reese Witherspoon within days of publication. “And what a joy it is,” wrote novelist Jenny Colgan in the Guardian. “The central character of Eleanor feels instantly and insistently real, as if she had been patiently waiting in the wings for her cue all along.” Its word of mouth success spread throughout the autumn of 2017 – it was a Radio 4 Book at Bedtime – and with perfect timing, just before the paperback was due to be released this month, it was awarded the Costa first novel prize, putting it in contention for the book of the year, which is announced on 30 January. Strangely, for a novel centred on an oddball whose life has been knocked off kilter by an unnamed childhood horror which she can only recall from her sense of its “before” and “after”, Eleanor Oliphant satisfied a yearning for the feelgood fiction that publishing insiders have dubbed “up-lit”. The US crime writer Attica Locke spoke for many when she wrote: “This book gave me immense joy during a year that I think we can all agree was a challenge to every American’s joy centre.” The point, as Honeyman says, is that “although she’s had a fairly catastrophic start, Eleanor is the agent of her own life. I didn’t want her to be portrayed as a victim, and I didn’t want her to be self-pitying either. “I tried to leave space in the narrative so that the reader can feel those feelings on her behalf.” It is a story of the transformational power of small acts of kindness, often involving food: complimentary truffles with a cup of coffee, a plate of biscuits to accompany a mug of tea. For Honeyman it is also a love song to Glasgow, where she has lived since she turned her back on her academic ambitions. “I wanted to set it there because it’s a place that I love and it’s a very kind city, though I don’t think it’s always portrayed like that,” she says. Eleanor’s unravelling – and subsequent redemption – begins when an old man collapses in the street. “It’s definitely my experience that, if that were to happen in Glasgow, 10 people would rush forward. I think that it has an undeserved reputation as a hard city and it’s nice to show the more positive side.” Eleanor’s partner in kindness is computer nerd Raymond, who overcomes her prejudice about unshaven “illiterates” who communicate in textspeak with outings to see his aged mother and a weekly lunch date in the local cafe. He hardly has the makings of a romantic hero – but then this is not quite a love story. It’s an exploration of platonic friendship, says Honeyman. “I think there are a lot of Raymonds in the world: he’s the sort of ordinary, kind, decent man who doesn’t often get featured in fiction.” She’s aware that Eleanor is going to be a hard act to follow, but she is already hard at work on her next novel, about which she reveals little except that it will be set in a different period and location. “I’ll see what happens, I guess,” she says, as she wheels her case off to the next appointment. She might not yet feel comfortable with the public demands of her sudden celebrity, but she’s clear about one thing: “It’s a dream come true for this to be my job.” - Claire Armitstead.

Kirkus Review

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 officedon't inquire further; in almost eight years no one hasand 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 Batorshe'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. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

Eleanor Oliphant is a socially inept 30-year- old who bounces between self-restrictive practicality and flights of fantasy more appropriate to a teenaged girl. Honey-man has created a mix of a Cinderella and ugly duckling who finds that life outside her daily routine can be magical and rewarding. A serendipitous conjunction of a growing friendship with a colleague and his decision to step in to help save a senior citizen with a health crisis spurs -Eleanor to look beyond her cloistered present and a traumatic past. The author paces the story of that past with well-placed clues, spread like bread crumbs, to keep Eleanor sympathetic and worth cheering for. Cathleen -McCarron embraces this audio role with skill. -VERDICT Recommended for larger fiction collections. ["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": LJ 2/15/17 review of the Pamela Dorman: Viking hc.]-Joyce Kessel, Villa -Maria Coll., Buffalo © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2017 Gail Honeyman When people ask me what I do--taxi drivers, hairdressers--I tell them I work in an office. In almost eight 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  work in an office  and automatically fill in the blanks themselves--lady doing photocopying, man tapping at a keyboard. I'm not complaining. I'm delighted that I don't have to get into the fascinating intricacies of accounts receivable with them. When I first started working here, whenever anyone asked, I told them that I worked for a graphic design company, but then they assumed I was a creative type. It became a bit boring to see their faces blank over when I explained that it was back office stuff, that I didn't get to use the fine‑tipped pens and the fancy software. I'm nearly thirty years old now and I've been working here since I was twenty‑one. Bob, the owner, took me on not long after the office opened. I suppose he felt sorry for me. I had a degree in Classics and no work experience to speak of, and I turned up for the interview with a black eye, a couple of missing teeth and a broken arm. Maybe he sensed, back then, that I would never aspire to anything more than a poorly paid office job, that I would be content to stay with the company and save him the bother of ever having to recruit a replacement. Perhaps he could also tell that I'd never need to take time off to go on honeymoon, or request maternity leave. I don't know. It's definitely a two-tier system in the office; the creatives are the film stars, the rest of us merely supporting artists. You can tell by looking at us which category we fall into. To be fair, part of that is salary­ elated. The back office staff get paid a pittance, and so we can't af­ford much in the way of sharp haircuts and nerdy glasses. Clothes, music, gadgets-although the designers are desperate to be seen as freethinkers with unique ideas, they all adhere to a strict uniform. Graphic design is of no interest to me. I'm a finance clerk. I could be issuing invoices for anything, really; armaments, Rohypnol, co­conuts. From Monday to Friday, I come in at 8.30. I take an hour for lunch. I used to bring in my own sandwiches, but the food at home always went off before I could use it up, so now I get something from the high street. I always finish with a trip to Marks & Spencer on a Friday, which rounds off the week nicely. I sit in the staffroom with my sandwich and I read the newspaper from cover to cover, and then do the crosswords. I take the  Daily Telegraph , not because I like it particularly, but because it has the best cryptic crossword. I don't talk to anyone-by the time I've bought my meal deal, read the paper and finished both crosswords, the hour is almost up. I go back to my desk and work till 5.30. The bus home takes half an hour. I make supper and eat it while I listen to the  Archers . I usually have pasta with pesto and salad-one pan and one plate. My childhood was full of culinary contradiction, and I've dined on both hand-dived scallops and boil-in-the-bag cod over the years. After much reflection on the political and sociological aspects of the table, I have realized that I am completely uninterested in food. My preference is for fodder hat is cheap, quick and simple to procure and prepare, whilst provid­ing the requisite nutrients to enable a person to stay alive. After I've washed up, I read a book, or sometimes I watch televi­sion if there's a program the  Telegraph  has recommended that day. I usually (well, always) talk to Mummy on a Wednesday evening for ten minutes or so. I go to bed around ten, read for half an hour and then put the light out. I don't have trouble sleeping, as a rule. On Fridays, I don't get the bus straight after work but instead I go to the Tesco Metro around the corner from the office and buy a margherita pizza, some Chianti and two big bottles of Glen's vodka. When I get home, I eat the pizza and drink the wine. I have some vodka afterward. I don't need much on a Friday, just a few big swigs. I usually wake up on the sofa around 3 a.m., and I stumble off to bed. I drink the rest of the vodka over the weekend, spread it throughout both days so that I'm neither drunk nor sober. Monday takes a long time to come around. My phone doesn't ring often--it makes me jump when it does--and it's usually people asking if I've been mis‑sold Payment Protection Insurance. I whisper  I know where you live  to them, and hang up the phone very, very gently. No one's been in my flat this year apart from service professionals; I've not voluntarily invited another human being across the threshold, except to read the meter. You'd think that would be impossible, wouldn't you? It's true, though. I do exist, don't I? It often feels as if I'm not here, that I'm a figment of my own imagination. There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar. A strong gust of wind could dislodge me completely, and I'd lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock. The threads tighten slightly from Monday to Friday. People phone the office to discuss credit lines, send me emails about contracts and estimates. The employees I share an office with--Janey, Loretta, Bernadette and Billy--would notice if I didn't turn up. After a few days (I've often wondered how many) they would worry that I hadn't phoned in sick--so unlike me--and they'd dig out my address from the personnel files. I suppose they'd call the police in the end, wouldn't they? Would the officers break down the front door? Find me, covering their faces, gagging at the smell? That would give them something to talk about in the office. They hate me, but they don't actually wish me dead. I don't think so, anyway.   I went to the doctor yesterday. It feels like eons ago. I got the young doctor this time, the pale chap with the red hair, which I was pleased about. The younger they are, the more recent their training, and that can only be a good thing. I hate it when I get old Dr. Wilson; she's about sixty, and I can't imagine she knows much about the latest drugs and medical breakthroughs. She can barely work the computer. The doctor was doing that thing where they talk to you but don't look at you, reading my notes on the screen, hitting the return key with increasing ferocity as he scrolled down. "What can I do for you this time, Miss Oliphant?" "It's back pain, Doctor," I told him. "I've been in agony." He still didn't look at me. "How long have you been experiencing this?" he said. "A couple of weeks," I told him. He nodded. "I think I know what's causing it," I said, "but I wanted to get your opinion." He stopped reading, finally looked across at me. "What is it that you think is causing your back pain, Miss Oliphant?" "I think it's my breasts, Doctor," I told him. "Your breasts?" "Yes," I said. "You see, I've weighed them, and they're almost half a stone-combined weight, that is, not each!" I laughed. He stared at me, not laughing. "That's a lot of weight to carry around, isn't it?" I asked him. "I mean, if I were to strap half a stone of additional flesh to your chest and force you to walk around all day like that, your back would hurt too, wouldn't it?" He stared at me, then cleared his throat. Excerpted from Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by Gail Honeyman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.