What To Read After Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Widely hailed as the best debut fiction of 2017, we adored Eleanor Oliphant. 

While working as an administrator, author Gail Honeyman enrolled in a Faber Academy writing course, submitting the first three chapters of what would become Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to a competition for unpublished fiction by female writers, run by Cambridge's Lucy Cavendish College. The novel went on to earn numerous awards and wide critical acclaim.

Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 and Category Winner for the Costa Book Awards 2017, First Novel Award, this book by Honeyman stole our hearts. 

Eleanor has had a complicated life. Shifted from one foster home to another, she eventually goes to university where she ends up in an abusive relationship. On graduation she gets a job in the accounts department of a graphic designer and there she is when we meet her, aged 31 and desperately lonely.

Eleanor is on the spectrum with her life overshadowed by some dreadful childhood tragedy which has left her face badly scarred. She keeps her head down at work and spends the weekends with two bottles of vodka.

She speaks to her mother on the telephone on a Wednesday and dreads the call. We are uncertain as to whether her mother is in prison or an asylum. Life ticks by until her works’ computer needs attention and enter one geeky IT man. How he and others break down her barriers is beautifully done. Very slowly we learn more about Eleanor and her past. Very slowly a future develops but once the geek (Raymond) arrives the novel is by no means slow. It becomes a page-turning, compulsive read of great charm.

Jojo Moyes described this book as ''a truly original literary creation: funny, touching and unpredictable. Her journey out of the shadows is expertly woven and absolutely gripping." And we couldn't agree more.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted - while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she's avoided all her life. Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than...fine?

If you haven't read this book, please, read it now...find out more about it here.

If you loved this book as much as we all did, then do take a look at some similar recommendations of titles below where the main protagonist also stole our hearts. These are all connected by authors illuminating the vital details which make us human, and are created by writers who make us laugh whilst reminding us of the joy, and the pain, of being alive. Let us know which books you'd add to this list.

Big Girl, Small Town

Big Girl, Small Town

Author: Michelle Gallen Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/02/2021

This is such a beautifully handled startling wow of a read, it has gone straight in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book. Spend a week with Majella as the routine of her life changes, she just wants to go to work, watch Dallas, and eat the same dinner each night. However… her mother is an alcoholic, her dad disappeared in the Troubles, and her gran has just died. The synopsis tells you that Majella is autistic, but this is her story, and she doesn’t know she is, so I met, I saw, I got to know Majella, as Majella. The extensive list of things she isn’t keen on are announced as the story progresses. The humour Michelle Gallen delivers is punchy, the swearing is particularly sweary, while the heartachy emotion wormed its way into my heart and squeezed. In fact Majella marched her way into my thoughts, she is one of the most wonderful characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and I’d go so far as to say that she is unforgettable. The repetition of her life, echoed through the book, adding emphasis to each new experience. The surrounding town and its folk slipped and exploded into play while the chip shop sits centre stage. Simple and raw yet richly complex, Big Girl, Small Town comes with huge applause and recommendations from me.

Star Books
A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2015

59-year old Ove is quite possibly one of the grumpiest people you’ll meet but, he has been an upstanding pillar of the community for decades. The last six months have taken their toll and he decides perhaps that life is not worth living.  Ove lives in a residential area of which he is fanatical about maintaining and keeping to the rules.  A family of a pregnant mother, two daughters and an IT consultant dad move in next door.  Ove resents them.  He resents everything and everyone and so he plans his death but each attempt is thwarted mostly by people needing help.  Ove is a very practical man and so he helps, yet he remains exasperated that other people’s lives are beginning to intrude upon him.  Quirky, uplifting, charming, sad, life-affirming and totally irresistible, this is a perfect gem that will leave you with a spring in your step. ~ Sarah Broadhurst   One of the Top 10 books in the Lovereading Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014. One of our Books of the Year 2014. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Debut Books of the Month
The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

Author: Graeme Simsion Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/01/2014

One of the Top 10 Lovereading Reader Review Panel Summer Read selections. A thoroughly charming book from this witty and intelligent Australian writer.  Don leads a very ordered life.  He does not consider himself odd, does not notice how much he shares with a group of children with Asperger’s syndrome, approaches everything in a completely logical way.  This logic extends into his search for a wife.  It is easy to mock Don and see this purely as a kooky rom-com, but it is more.  It is an exploration of society with all its preconceptions and unwritten rules.  To fit in or not?  How much to fit in?  Should one try to change just to fit in?  And change how much?  Rosie guides Don and the reader through these challenges in what must be one of the most endearing books I have ever read.  It will probably be one of my most memorable books of the year. ~ Sarah Broadhurst   One of our Books of the Year 2014.   Click here to view The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project which is out in paperback in February 2015.   January 2014 MEGA Debut of the Month.   We defy you not to absolutely love this quirky romantic gem of a book, that weirdly sits somewhere between One Day by David Nicholls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time from Mark Haddon and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding.   Professor Don Tillman leads a v. v. structured life; single, intelligent, tall, fit, heathy - unable to see why he can’t find a wife and unable to see he is really rather autistic... His hyper-rational solution is a 16 page questionnaire. But love does work in mysterious and irrational ways. Touching, insightful and v v funny, please read the Opening Extract - you will be hooked! In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Rosie Project a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'What a brilliant book... Please read it, he [the protagonist] will change your life' – Jayne Burton. Scroll down to read more reviews. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman

Author: Sayaka Murata Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/05/2019

Meet Keiko. Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years. Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married. But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store... *Convenience Store Woman comes in three different colours; the colour you receive will be chosen at random*

Saving Missy

Saving Missy

Author: Beth Morrey Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

A debut novel to read slowly, to savour, to adore. Yes, this is a rather special and beautiful read, and I want to climb a few rooftops to shout about it. Missy Carmichael is lonely, she lives by herself in a huge house, when opportunities arise for friendship and more, can she reach out and take them? I admit to having fallen in love with Missy, she isn’t perfect and she makes mistakes (who doesn’t!), yet there is something about her that tiptoed into my heart and soul and has taken up residence. So often we just see a snapshot of someone, a moment or period in their life, however not here. Beth Morrey has not only brought her to life, but by also dipping into the past, we discover the gems that make Missy, well, Missy! The surrounding characters are a wonderfully quirky bunch, and Bob is an absolute delight. I laughed and I cried (oh how I cried). Saving Missy meanders gently, poignantly, beautifully, to what was for me, a perfect ending. I adored meeting Missy and so have chosen this lovely debut novel as one of our star books.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Audiobooks of the Month
Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything Happens for a Reason

Author: Katie Allen Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Quirky yet insightful, bright yet wistful, amusing yet emotional… this is one heck of a thought-provoking and stimulating debut. When Rachel is told ‘everything happens for a reason’ after her son Luke is stillborn, she begins to search for proof, certain she is to blame. This is one of those books that doesn’t fit neatly into a genre, instead it straddles several, and actually stands quite rightly on its own two feet. Author Katie Allen is a journalist, and this story is deeply personal and painful to her, she said on twitter that after her baby died one person texted back: “everything happens for a reason”, and she had grappled with that ever since. Grief is a lonely and isolating place to be, yet this novel, while eye-opening, is also inclusive and encouraging. Letting her feelings out in a series of emails, Rachel is incredibly engaging, she took my hand and welcomed me into the pages. I quite honestly had no idea where this book was going to to take me, I didn’t try to guess and remained firmly in the the presence of the words as they entered my thoughts. Highly recommended and a LoveReading Star Book, Everything Happens for a Reason is full of contradictions that fuse into the most surprising, moving, and beautiful novel. The LoveReading LitFest invited Katie Allen to the festival to talk about Everything Happens for a Reason.  The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member.

Star Books
Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful

Author: Nina Stibbe Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/01/2020

Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 Winner A smirky, fabulously quirky, poignant novel and an absolute joy to read. It is 1980, Lizzie is 18, she starts a new job working for a dentist, moves into her own flat, and thinks she may have got herself a boyfriend (but isn’t entirely sure). Lizzie is a total delight, her courage, spirit and pithy observations mix into a heady cocktail alongside her apprehension and doubt. The other characters are beautifully realised in their own right, every utterance perfectly placed, it is difficult to pick just one out as when I called them forward in my mind, they clambered over each in a riot of energy. Nina Stibbe excels in the small, in fact the incy wincy details that are so beautifully observed you didn’t know they were missing until you read them, and could see and feel the entire picture. The understanding of human frailty and poignancy of human absurdity is so wonderfully explored. There is something compelling about the writing that lodged in my mind, and took up residence in my heart. I snorted (yes actually snorted) out loud with laughter and while heartache and break is never far away, thoroughly loved every word of Reasons To Be Cheerful, it’s just gorgeous!

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Six Loves of Billy Binns

The Six Loves of Billy Binns

Author: Richard Lumsden Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/08/2019

I have completely and irretrievably fallen in love with this book. I entered thinking one thing, and left feeling so, so much more. Billy at over one hundred years old, decides to look back over the loves of his life. Richard Lumsden has created a wonderfully rounded and appealing main character, surrounded by an equally gorgeous supporting cast. I slipped into the pages and just wanted to remain there, the past calls and cajoles, intriguing suggestions form and grow, before the present enters once again. There were times when my heart broke, each piece forming a collection of love just for Billy. The Six Loves Of Billy Binns is a beautifully readable and emotional tale, full of laughter and tears you really couldn’t ask for much more, highly recommended. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Debut Books of the Month

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