Offbeat Characters and Why We Love Them

One of the things that automatically attracts me to a book is a character with a quirky voice.  I know I’m not the only one who is drawn to offbeat types of characters, which made me start to think about WHY. What I think it comes down to, at least for me, is that these characters are often vulnerable and have a certain innocence to them, which brings out our protective sides. We find ourselves rooting for them and wanting the best for them, while laughing good naturedly over their social foibles and perhaps too honest opinions.  As far as quirky children narrators, I think it’s actually the opposite. They’re often precocious and sound older, which, again, makes me feel protective towards them and the world they’re not actually old enough to handle.
These characters also having refreshing voices that stand out from the other books we read. They have a tendency to speak truths that other characters might feel uncomfortable saying or might not see the same way that I believe resonates with a lot of us.
Ellie and the Harpmaker, which came out August 6, alternates between two points of view, one of which is Dan, a man who I think the author is intending us to think is on the Austism spectrum (his hand movements, his social interactions, his focused interest). Ellie and Dan start an unexpected friendship when she stumbles upon his barn where he carves his harps.  The story is set in Exmoor and I loved the setting and attention to detail, which comes from the author actually living there. She is also a harpist, so the descriptions of the harps and harp playing were beautifully done. My favorite part, though, was the voice of Dan, who definitely fits the role of a loveable, offbeat character.
Have you read it? Are you planning to?
Inspired by Ellie and the Harpmaker, below is a list of some of my favorite books filled with quirky leads. Please let me know yours!
  • Annie Hartnett’s Rabbit Cake
    • Darkly funny and very unique.
  • Katy Regan’s Little Big Love
    • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this one did not get the big love it should have. The little boy in this is a delight.
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
    • Scout’s unusual, right? Her voice is done so well and I think is a big reason so many of us adore this book.
  • Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
    • The narrator of this one cracks me up. It opens with her plotting to poison her sister…
  • Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette?
    • Who’s going to see the movie? This one was so refreshing when it first came out.
  • Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different
    • This one is overshadowed by Where’d You Go Bernadette?. I think people expected Semple to write the same story again, but not (fair expectations, right?) and were disappointed, but I loved this one.
  • Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project
    • Oh my goodness, this one had me laughing out loud. So good. Has anyone read The Rosie Result? I’m really curious about how the third book ends the series!
  • Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  • Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited
    • Apparently Sebastian is based on someone the author knew who actually would carry his teddy bear around talking to it.
  • Julia Stuart’s The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise
    • I’m due for a reread of this one, but I remember being fully charmed by it when I first read it. It’s chockful of quirky Brits in a quirky setting…the Tower of London (yes, people live there!). It was an immediate favorite.

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!

*If you are interested in buying any of the books mentioned here, please use my link to Powell’s Books below. Any support is deeply appreciated.

Leave a Reply