Top Ten Tuesday: Unlikable Characters You Can’t Help but Love

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Drawing of a grumpy man slamming a door shut as several much smaller people run away. The image credit for today’s post goes to Edward Lear, an English artist and poet who lived during the Victorian era. The grumpy man in this sketch made me chuckle.

Let’s see how many answers to this topic I can come up with as I often have trouble finishing books that feature unlikeable characters.

1. Evelyn Hugo from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Why: I didn’t actually end up finishing this book because of how Evelyn behaved. She was ruthless, self-absorbed, and not a narrator I necessarily trusted to tell me the whole truth.

With that being said, I loved her grit and determination. From what I could tell, she found a way to thrive in a sexist society that was at best deeply hostile to women. I don’t know how her tale ends yet, but I think I will someday go back and finish it.

She wasn’t someone I’d ever want to invite into my inner circle or trust to treat me fairly, but she was a very interesting person for sure.


2. Marilla Cuthbert from the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery 

Why: I pride myself on being able to get along with just about everyone, but Marilla was such a rigid and grumpy person when she was first introduced in this series that even I would have trouble finding common ground with her.

What made me eventually love her was seeing how she softened and mellowed as a result of her relationship with Anne. Yes, she was still someone who saw the world in pretty black and white terms, but she also learned to appreciate other perspectives as she grew older.

I admire people who continue to work on their weak spots throughout their lives. That’s exactly the sort of person I hope to be when I’m her age.


3. Sookie Stackhouse from the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris 

Why: Sookie was not the sharpest crayon in the box, and I often felt annoyed with how often she put herself into danger in this series instead of listening to the reasonable advice of the folks around her who knew more about vampire and werewolf culture.

I deeply admired her creativity and resourcefulness, though, and kept reading because of how invested I was in what would happen to her next. Just like with Marilla, my first impression of her was much less encouraging than how I felt about her a few books later. Some characters need to grow on you!


4. Eva from We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver 

Why: Eva irritated me because she never wanted to have kids, agreed to have them anyway, and then complained about raising them every step of the way. There was a big reveal later on in the storyline that completely changed my opinion of her, though, so keep reading.

I thought it was interesting to go back and look at her previous complaints after that twist. It made me see her life in a completely different way, and that’s all I can say without sharing spoilers.


5. Ove from  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

Why: Like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, this is also a book I need to go back and finish sometime.

When I left off with Ove, he was a grumpy, negative man who looked for the worst in everyone around him. That’s the sort of character I prefer to take in small doses, although I know from reading other reviews that his personality will change as the plot moves forward. I do expect to love him once he stops being so pessimistic, though!




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58 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Unlikable Characters You Can’t Help but Love

  1. Evelyn and Sookie… I totally get why you said what you did about them. It’s true!

  2. Marilla!! Yes, totally — she’s so stiff and prickly to start with, but over time, it becomes clear just how much she loves Anne. I hope you give Evelyn Hugo (the book) another shot sometime. I really loved it, but I can see why you felt the way you did about Evelyn.

  3. Anita@seriesbooklover

    Sookie is an interesting choice!

  4. I haven’t read Ove (though I’ve heard much) but generally those are the kind of characters I do like. Those that grow that much.

  5. Great list, Lydia. I love your choice of Marilla, that is a perfect description.

  6. Jo

    I’ve only seen the film of We Need To Talk About Kevin, but I actually felt quite bad for Eva throughout it, so I wonder if the book would have given me a different opinion of her (though it sounds like she grew on you, so maybe I would have reached the same conclusion but later!).
    My TTT:

  7. Ove is a popular one for this list this week. And Evelyn Hugo is perfect for this list!

  8. An interesting list. I still need to read The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo.

    I like the picture of the grumpy man!

    Have a great week!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog
    My post:

  9. Funnily enough, those were the traits I most enjoyed in Evelyn! XD

  10. I’ve read all of your choices except Sookie, Lydia, and I agree with all of them. And you’ve reminded me that I’ve been meaning to reread “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”

  11. Sookie is such an interesting example here. She often made choices that were so frustrating, but I still rooted for her anyway!

  12. While I loved Ove, not everyone does. The more you learn about him, the better you understand his behavior. Does that excuse everything about him? Not at all! But in my opinion, it makes him more realistic.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  13. I definitely have to agree with you about Sookie, on all points. She definitely isn’t sharp, but there’s just something about her that you can’t help but love!

  14. Fran

    Great choices! I think Marilla is difficult to like initially and hard NOT to like eventually! It’s a great progression.
    I actually considered Eva for my list but went with some others instead. I wouldn’t say I rooted for her, but I definitely had sympathy for her situation.
    Here’s my list:

  15. Totally agree with you on Sookie Stackhouse, I read that series going “girl, not again”.

  16. I have never read Anne of Green Gables, but it’s on my TBR list. Have a great rest of the week! 🙂

  17. A couple of TBR books on this list. Intriguing. 🙂

  18. Good list! I LOVED Ove!! Eva from Kevin was a great choice.

  19. I’ve only read the first 5 or so books in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and I much prefer show-Sookie over book-Sookie.
    The adaptation, while the final couple of seasons were a bit ‘meh’ at best, also improved a number of the characters, in my opinion.

  20. Weirdly enough, I actually haven’t read any of these books! But I have heard of some of the characters, haha. I love likable-unlikable characters, so they are some good recommendations. 🙂

  21. I totally get why you feel that way about Sookie. I found her character frustrating at times too. Great picks!

  22. I agree with you about Sookie! I never actually finished the book series because it deviated so much from the show, which I was watching at the same time, but now I should go back and give them another try.

  23. Marilla, Eva, and Ove, those are the three books I know. AoGG didn’t leave a large impression on me, probably because I only read it as an adult.

    Ove, now, I didn’t really care much for the whole story but Ove does grow on you towards the end of the book.

    Eva. I was given this book by a friend who said it was the right book for me. And she was totally correct (see here). I wouldn’t say I totally disliked Eva but I couldn’t understand her at all. Not even at the end, though it did explain a lot! And I never watched the film, either.

    I skipped this week’s TTT but thanks for visiting my Spell the Month in Books post.

  24. Love your list Lydia!

    I remember not liking Marilla as well when I first read Anne of Green Gables. I was still in primary school, so at stage she actually scared me!

  25. I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but I definitely agree that she was an unlikeable character!

  26. I agree with Marilla! You just want to shake her!

  27. I guess I like unlikeable characters because I love Ove and Evelyn Hugo! As the books go on, you slowly start to realize why they’re such awful humans.

  28. I thought I was the only one with Sookie Stackhouse. Totally agree on this one. Haven’t read any of the others. :O

    Luna @ Mysteries by Moonlight

  29. I haven’t read a single Taylor Jenkins Reid novel (despite the hype!), but for some reason, the Evelyn Hugo book never appealed that much. Not sure why unless it was some weird feeling I wouldn’t like it – or maybe just this character. 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting my website last week, Lydia.

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