Funny Story review – Emily Henry turns the friends to lovers trope on its head | Books | Entertainment

Emily Henry quickly became an instant-buy author for me when I read You and Me on Vacation. I don’t have to even read what’s on the blurb to know it’s going to be a good one; she puts out hit after hit. Funny Story is no exception.

Book Lovers opens up with the female lead having to smile her way through a breakup and Happy Place forces exes into close proximity, so it’s not a surprise that Funny Story kicks off with something similar. The blurb opens with: “Daphne always loved the way her fiancé Peter told their story. How they met (on a blustery day), fell in love (over an errant hat), and moved back to his lakeside hometown to begin their life together. He really was good at telling it… right up until the moment he realised he was actually in love with his childhood best friend Petra.”

The “man falls in love with his long-time best friend who was there all along” is hardly a new concept – it’s a story I myself have devoured time after time. And I’m always on the sidelines begging the friends to see just how perfect they’d be together if they just took the plunge.

Emily Henry turns the trope that I loved so much in her earlier novel on its head here. We’re rarely watching it unfold from the perspective of the fiancée who was waiting at home for him to come back from his stag do, which is exactly where we find Daphne. The issue with relocating your entire life to be with the person you’ve fallen for is if things don’t go to plan, you’re stranded miles away from your own life.

Daphne doesn’t really know anyone outside of the group they’d built for themselves, which – if she’s honest – are just his friends.

That’s how she ends up living with the only person who can really understand how she feels, Petra’s ex-lover Miles, who was just as blindsided by the romantic turn the childhood best friends took.

She takes all of the furniture she’d bought for her and Peter and tucks it away into the spare bedroom at Peter’s. It doesn’t matter if it fits, she’ll live in a real-life game of Tetris before she lets him keep any of it.

Although Daphne and Miles have met before on double dates they don’t really know much about each other. Peter never had a nice word to say about him, likely because he was the man sleeping with the woman he was secretly pining over, which means Daphne only knows that he likes to smoke cannabis.

When Peter invites her to his wedding to his best friend, just months after he called off their own wedding, Daphne doesn’t think. She just lies. She will be there with her new boyfriend Miles because, apparently in Waning Bay, Michigan, when you get cheated on you don’t get angry, you just swap partners.

I love watching fake relationships unfold across a page. The blurred lines, moments that are straight out of a film and ramped-up romance since nobody has to pull back get me every time. 

It’s not just Miles and Daphne we see get to know each other, though; we also get to see her make her own friends outside of any relationships. Henry indulges us with the importance of romantic and physical relationships, of course – it’s a given in the genre – but my favourite relationship to see unfold is between Daphne and her colleague Ashleigh.

Ashleigh felt vibrant and real. She’s not afraid to tell you exactly what she’s thinking. Watching the women get to know each other after months of working together felt incredibly authentic. 

Often you’ve already built up your friend group in your youth, so it can be daunting to try to meet new people, and the two women are by no means perfect, but it was refreshing to see that you can build up a support system and have a laugh while doing it.

Family relationships are focused on throughout Funny Story, as well. Once again, they’re not perfect and there’s a lot of forgiveness that needs to take place, but it’s handled in a way that feels vivid.

As someone who really knows wine (I’ve recently studied my Level 3 Award in Wines at the WSET) I soaked up seeing Miles’ love for all things Oenology unfold on the page.

Henry’s books typically involve jobs in the publishing and writing world, Daphne herself is a librarian. I love the adoration of books, but it is nice to experience characters that are a little different. Sure, it also helps that Miles is tall and handsome – although most romantic leads are.

I really enjoyed this book, as I expected to and I can’t wait to dissect it with friends as it hits shelves.

If you’re a fan of stories where the happily ever after wasn’t quite what you first thought then this is for you. Fans of Ali Hazelwood, Christina Lauren and especially Elena Armas’ The Long Game should pick this up.

Buy Funny Story at the following retailers:

Waterstones (signed edition)

Amazon hardcover

Kindle

Audible

WHSmith

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