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?


Book Club Babble – Eleanor Oliphant


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?




9 Responses

  1. Maddy

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding but in the end of the book it mentioned that her mother is in fact dead and died in the fire that night. In addition she has a new name and is under security because of the intentional fire. Now what confuses me is why and how is she having weekly contact with her mother if she’s dead? Also how (assuming she wasn’t dead) would she have be able to contact Elenor after the event? Why doesn’t Raymond ask about any of this since he already knew, did he not put the pieces together and bother to ask? Also why doesn’t her counselor notice or realize this? I feel the end was rushed and I was left with questions because of the new information that wasn’t explained after reading the newspaper articles.

    • Amy

      Definitely felt the same way. In fact, my mother read the book and was so involved with the storyline as it was that she completely missed the fact that Eleanor’s mother was dead. I think her brain just couldn’t see what she didn’t expect to find.

    • Alicia

      I have the same question. How did she have all these chats with her “Mummy” who as we discovered from the newspaper articles, had passed away in the fire with her other daughter?

      • Maria

        Eleanor couldn’t do without her mother whether she was horrible or not (alive or not). I think today they call it attachment disorder. To cope, she pretended to have these conversations. The logistics of these chats are harder to work out. We are left wondering how deluded she really was.

    • Nancy

      Elinor is emotionally damaged from the attack and her loss. She is having the relationship with her mother in her head.

    • Grove

      Mental health plays odd tricks. She wasn’t ready to understand the consequences of the fire, she had shut the fact she had a sister out. The social worker knew her mum was dead but accepted that Elenor needed to “come to terms” with events before they could move on

  2. Risa

    >>>Do you think Eleanor needs to make peace with her past or forget about it to move on?

    Eleanor has unexamined trauma and PTSD. That’s not something she can just “forget about and move on.” She needs therapy, love, and compassion.

  3. Jeanne M Brown

    One of the things I love about this book is the power of friendship. Raymond did his very best to appreciate Eleanor’s “quirks” and at the same time exposed her to his normal life, hoping she would benefit from it. Had it not been for his friendship, she would have surely died. Instead of taking advantage of her differences, Raymond was able to guide her and help her work through many of her damaging behaviors. I loved the book! I listened to it read by a Scottish narrator and that made it much more fun! Yes, there were things that were quite dark, but I was left with a feeling of hope!