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Book of the Week: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Surviving and Thriving with Loneliness

By Margaret Manning September 22, 2018 Lifestyle

If you have ever felt alone, lonely and disconnected from the world, you will resonate with the character in Gail Honeyman’s book, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Does the purpose of your life seem to be unclear and in shadow? If you think that living solo is the only way to make any sense of the contradictions, Eleanor Oliphant has some suggestions for navigating the bumpy journey.

Do you reject society’s games but feel compelled to pay attention to the social rules of love and relationships? Eleanor Oliphant can be your teacher.

Who Is Eleanor Oliphant?

Eleanor Oliphant is a 30-year-old woman who is very much alone in this world. She has been in and out of foster care since she was a little girl and has never had a close physical relationship with any one.

In her institutionalized world, all her physical needs are met, but she protects herself from the emotional side of her life. Without friends, she is socially awkward and has created an inner place for herself that gives her a protective armour from what she sees as an irrational world.

Phone calls with her “mummy” give her a moral compass that she accepts but rebels against. The book tells the story of her transformation and her desire to achieve freedom from her demons and fears.

Weaving a Web of Wonderful Words

The language in this book is superb. Eleanor is trapped in a delicate and fragile mental state that I feel so many women in our community can relate to. We’ve all had those moments of insecurity and fear, feeling disconnected from reality.

In discussing her reality, Eleanor says, “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.”

This quote says it all for me.

What Is Normal Behaviour in Eleanor’s Upside-Down World?

It’s a strange and wonderful book. I read it over the span of three days and was amazed at how it takes a traumatic and serious issue and transforms it into a warm, funny and heart-warming tale.

Eleanor is a woman with deep and complex psychological issues which point to a childhood that is not revealed until the end of the book in one of the most unusual twists I have ever read.

She is clearly disturbed about her life, but somehow manages to make all her idiosyncrasies seem totally believable.

Susanne Strong, on a Goodreads review, sums up my own feelings about this book.

She said, “Though it affected me greatly, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is without a doubt one of the most incredible, profound, and beautifully well written novels I have absorbed in ages. It wrecked me in the best and worst ways possible. In case it’s not obvious, it will stay with me for a long time.”

Which book did you read this week? Have you read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine? Did you identify in any way with Eleanor and her loneliness and vulnerability? Are you comfortable in social settings or do you prefer to be alone? Please share your thoughts with the community!

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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