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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Discussion Guide: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman

Information about the author and her work is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gail_Honeyman

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Get personal with Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, winner of the 2018 Costa Debut Novel Award, was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress and is Honeyman's debut novel. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is currently in production for a movie to be released in 2019 by Reese Witherspoon's media company, Hello Sunshine. 

Discussion Questions

From https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com

1. Knowing the truth about Eleanor’s family, look back through the book to revisit her exchanges with her mother. Did you see what was ahead? How did Honeyman lay the groundwork for the final plot twist? 

2. What are the different ways that the novel’s title could be interpreted? What do you think happens to Eleanor after the book ends? 

3. Eleanor says, “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” (p. 227). Do you agree? 

4. What does Raymond find appealing about Eleanor? And why does Eleanor feel comfortable opening up to Raymond? 

5. Eleanor is one of the most unusual protagonists in recent fiction, and some of her opinions and actions are very funny. What were your favorite moments in the novel?

6. “Did men ever look in the mirror, I wondered, and find themselves wanting in deeply fundamental ways? When they opened a newspaper or watched a film, were they presented with nothing but exceptionally handsome young men, and did this make them feel intimidated, inferior, because they were not as young, not as handsome?” (p. 74). Eleanor’s question is rhetorical and slightly tongue-in-cheek, but worth answering. What are your thoughts? If men don’t have this experience, why not? If they do, why is it not more openly discussed? 

7. Eleanor is frightened that she may become like her mother. Is this a reasonable fear? What is the balance of nature and nurture? 

8. Is it possible to emerge from a traumatic childhood unscathed? 

9. Eleanor says, “If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say” (p. 226–227). Why is this the case? 

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