NB magazine is delighted to announce that Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is NB’s Book Club Book Of The Year 2019, as voted for by our readers. Impressively, Honeyman’s incredible debut received more than double the votes of any of our other shortlisted titles in the readers vote.
Our readers are expert judges with 56% of them part of a reading group or book club and 100% of them mad about books. Described as “refreshingly original”, “beautifully crafted” and “singing with hope” it moved our readers to both laughter and tears. A number of our readers commented that it was the perfect book for a discussion group and it is little wonder this life-affirming read has won the hearts of readers and book clubs the world over.
Surprisingly for a bestselling novel – for those of you who haven’t yet read this remarkable debut already – the key to Eleanor Oliphant’s immense success and popularity is, very simply, the importance of kindness. The novel is centred upon a lovable heroine; a woman who’s simple, monotonous, and terribly lonely life of schedules (and vodka on the weekend) is completely altered by an act of simple human compassion. Suddenly, Eleanor is forced to face up her traumatic past, and deal with the things which have challenged her throughout her life. She is an ordinary woman, doing extraordinarily brave things.
Honeyman’s inspiration to write Eleanor Oliphant was sparked by two things. Firstly, her impending 40th birthday, and secondly, an article she had read about loneliness in young people, a topic which doesn’t receive much media attention. The novel took two and a half years to write, fitted around Gail’s job working in an administrative role at a University.
Eleanor Oliphant has already scooped a number of major book prizes, including the 2017 Costa Book Awards First Novel Award, and the British Book Awards Book of the Year and was recently awarded platinum status at the Nielsen Bestseller Awards. As well as being translated into twenty-seven languages (so far) and being sold to over thirty territories, the book has been optioned for the big screen by ‘Hello Sunshine’, the company of Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon.
Here’s what our managing editor Jade Craddock had to say about this stunning debut: “Reading Gail Honeyman’s debut you know you’re reading something extremely special and so it has proven. Not only is this an exceptional story, incredibly well-written, with a central character that lives with you long after you read the final page, but it is a book that has changed and shaped the publishing world for the better.”
The novel has helped to catalyse a broader trend in the increasing popularity of Up-lit within the UK Publishing Industry. In challenging- and let’s face it, chaotic- times, people have started to turn towards the books which focus on the fundamental human values of kindness and empathy. As the appeal of high-paced thrillers has declined, readers are looking for life-affirming and uplifting stories which focus on the things which truly matter. Gail Honeyman’s debut is a worthy winner for the NB Book Club Book of the Year Prize, and she joins a rich and diverse history of authors who have won the prize previously.
2018 Tin Man by Sarah Winman
2017 This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
2016 The Bees by Lalique Paul
2015- The Humans by Matt Haig
2014- Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
2013- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
2012- Room by Emma Donoghue
2011- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2010- The Return by Victoria Hislop
2009- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
2008- Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
2007- The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini
2006- My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
2005- The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick
2004- Altered Land by Jules Hardy
2003- The Siege by Helen Dunmore