Gail Honeyman‘s debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is a book club favorite and for good reason! The main character Eleanor tugs at our heartstrings and makes us want to pull her into our care to protect and guide her as her mother never did. Her ignorance and innocence combine to create a poignant character who will never leave our memory. Eleanor’s gradual discovery of who she is and who she wants to be is a satisfying journey for the reader to take along with her. The only criticism we have of Honeyman’s book is that it had to end. We hope you enjoy the following book club questions that came up in our discussion of the novel. SPOILER ALERT! These questions assume you’ve read the entire book!
Can you picture yourself being friends with Eleanor?
Without any female friends or relatives to relate to, where does Eleanor derive her concept of what it means to be a woman?
This story begs the question of nature versus nurture. Obviously, Eleanor wasn’t brought up in a loving, thoughtful environment that gave her tools on how to deal with the world. But is there any evidence that she might still have been socially awkward even had she been born to “normal” parents?
The men and women at Eleanor’s workplace don’t make an effort to be compassionate and understanding of her. In fact, the way they act towards her is reminiscent of immature middle-schoolers. Why don’t some people have a better acceptance of those who stand out because they are different?
When Eleanor talks to her mother once a week despite the past and present emotional abuse her mother inflicts on her do you wonder why she continues to do so?
Do you think Eleanor needs to make peace with her past or forget about it to move on?
What are the first signs that Eleanor is starting to see life from a hopeful perspective?
Eleanor has no social reference from which to interact with others. Yet, she suddenly decides she can have a meaningful personal encounter with a rockstar. How does her chosen “project” change the direction of her life?
When Raymond shows an interest in Eleanor do you find yourself rooting for him? Why? What is interesting about their interaction?
What are some other pivotal experiences that cause Eleanor to grow?
Does the surprise twist at the end change your opinion of Eleanor and her perceived state of mental health or lack of it throughout the book?
Did Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine leave you feeling uplifted and hopeful or concerned and doubtful?