Book Review: Funny Story // Emily Henry

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I first became aware of Emily Henry a couple of years ago, when her novel Book Lovers was all over Instagram. I read it with fairly low expectations but whizzed through and instantly read everything else she had written. I had her latest novel Funny Story on pre-order the moment it was available. I’m a fan and I’m pleased to say that she hasn’t disappointed me yet.

In Funny Story, Henry uses several rom-com tropes to tell the story of Daphne and Miles; opposites attract (he’s laid back, she’s uptight), friends / roommates to lovers (Daphne and Miles move in together when their respective partners leave them for each other) and fake dating (because what else do you do in rom-com land when you get invited to your exes’ wedding?). Personally, I love a romance trope. It’s like having a contract with the author; you know where you stand and what you’re going to get. You’re along for the journey, but there aren’t too many surprises about the destination.

I loved the characters of Daphne and Miles and was really rooting for them. I think what worked so well was the friendship that they developed throughout the course of the novel. I genuinely believed their growing relationship, their chemistry, and the way they looked out for each other. I’d go so far as to say that it is their friendship that is really the heart of Funny Story. As their attraction to each other deepens, it is a fear of damaging the friendship that acts as a barrier. This is especially true for Daphne, who has very few friends, having built her life around her ex. While the male leads in romances can sometimes be a little obnoxious, I genuinely liked Miles. I liked the way the characters cared for each other even before their feelings became stronger.

Within the novel, Henry also explores what it can mean to have lost yourself in a relationship and how the wounds people carry from their childhood can affect them throughout their lives. Both characters carry hurt and damage from a parent, which makes it difficult for them to navigate their emotions. While there are therefore some serious themes, Funny Story never strays too far into a dark place.

As with several other of Henry’s female leads, Daphne is a book lover, and works as a children’s librarian. The library acts as a means to introduce side characters and new friends and also as a focus for an event Daphne is planning, after which she may leave town. Alongside the relationship with Miles, I also enjoyed reading Daphne’s growing friendships with her work colleague Ashleigh and the “small town” characters who show up in much of Henry’s work. I think it was important to have these additional characters to show Daphne’s growth and that she wasn’t repeating history by solely building her life around a relationship again.

Overall, I found Funny Story to be another enjoyable read from Emily Henry with great characters, a convincing romance, and an absolute gem in Miles. I’m sure the army of Emily Henry fans won’t be disappointed.

Words by Nicola Varley


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