An exuberant dark comedy about love, grief, sex, guilt, and one woman’s harebrained scheme to tranquilize her voraciously amorous girlfriend for a few days so that she might pay off her drug dealer, make soup, and finally get some peace and quiet.
"A brilliantly quirky, surreally funny story.... An intriguingly headstrong yet vulnerable character with an astonishing talent for making the worst possible life-decisions." —Sarah Haywood, best-selling author of The Cactus
Frances was not looking for a relationship when she met Elaine in a bar. She was, in fact, looking to drown her sorrows in a pint or twelve and nurse a broken heart, shattered by the gorgeous, electric Adrienne. But somehow (it involved a steady stream of beer and weed, as things often did with Frances) Elaine ended up in Frances’s bed and never left. Now, faced with mounting pressure from her drug dealer, Dom (and his goon, Betty), Frances comes up with a terrible idea: She asks Elaine to move in with her for real. Unfortunately, this seemingly romantic overture makes Elaine even more sex-crazed and maniacal with love. Frances fears she may never escape the relationship, so, given no choice, she makes the obvious decision: She will sedate Elaine.
A story as enthusiastically madcap and funny as it is smart and emotionally surprising, Sedating Elaine introduces a roster of unforgettable characters and an indelible, wildly exciting new voice in fiction.
About the Author
DAWN WINTER lives in Essex, north of London, and studied English literature at the University of Roehampton. She has held a variety of jobs in prisons, hospices, kitchens, and factories. Sedating Elaine is her first novel.
“In Dawn Winter’s knockout debut, Sedating Elaine, Frances owes money to a drug dealer and, with no way of getting it, contrives to have her obnoxiously upbeat, generationally wealthy girlfriend, Elaine, move in with her so she can shake her down for money… The prose, like Frances, is sprightly and dry. Crisp. Delivered with a shrug… There are depths here; it is not all froth… Frances is funny and winning... You find yourself rooting for the drugging to go off without a hitch.” —Erin Somers, The New York Times
“A delightfully unconventional love story, where Frances’s heartbreak from her previous girlfriend is woven throughout. A worthy nominee for the Comedy women in print prize, not only is the concept fun, Winter also has a knack for embedding jokes in a way that feels effortless and, like, actually funny.” —Lily Lindon, The Guardian
“Humorous, emotive, perplexing… It is [Frances’s]…somewhat distasteful mission and overall ethos that makes her amusing, and which provides ample room for Winter to display her skill with humor, which she does often and with good reason….Engaging… Sedating Elaine is a notable accomplishment.” —D. W. White, Chicago Review of Books
"A remarkable feat: [Winter] makes an infuriatingly foolish protagonist with specific problems — and specific ideas about how to solve them — into a character who inspires compassion and gives voice to poignant truths...Carefully crafted...Moving." —Heidi Mastrogiovanni, Washington Independent Review of Books
“Sedating Elaine’s messy, queer energy reminds me of Milk Fed by Melissa Broder and Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier, and I am here for it!” —Sharon Van Meter, Off the Shelf
“This darkly intoxicating novel is outrageous from the first line to the surprisingly tender last.” —Jordan Snowden, Apartment Therapy
"A novel of deep, transformative healing. Think Weekend at Bernie’s meets Cheryl Strayed. Over the course of a few days, everything that can go wrong does, and Frances experiences sedation’s opposite: awakening. Her memories, her beliefs, her family connections, and her self-concept all rise to the surface and demand reexamination. Debut novelist Winter oscillates between the satirically ridiculous… to the profoundly important… [T]he novel remains thoroughly interesting, unusual, and compelling. —Booklist "Brash and engaging." —Kirkus
“Winter’s sharp debut blends humor and emotional reflections with an exploration of trauma, substance abuse, and dysfunctional relationships… Written in moving and candid prose, this takes an unflinching look at what troubled people are capable of, and what they might need to be healed. The result is amusing and touching in equal parts.” —Publishers Weekly
"Electric prose paired with a sharp-edged wit, on its surface Sedating Elaine is an off-kilter bop that will make you sweat and flip pages. However, the true victory of Winter's debut is its unblinking desire to capture humanity in all its crooked beauty. Frances is a narrator who reminds us to look past people's rough exteriors and consider their vulnerable insides." —Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl
“Sedating Elaine is a delightfully unhinged romp through romantic debacle, jaw-dropping decisions, and an emotional quagmire of guilt and longing. In this deft debut, Dawn Winters has created a modern, madcap comedy of errors that ultimately offers a touching lesson in forgiveness. Utterly bonkers and as darkly comic as it gets, Sedating Elaine is a brilliant, bingeable read.” —Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch
“Sedating Elaine is a brilliantly quirky, surreally funny story of a woman who comes up with the craziest idea ever for clearing her debts. In Frances, Dawn Winter has created an intriguingly headstrong yet vulnerable character with an astonishing talent for making the worst possible life-decisions. I laughed, cringed and held on to the edge of my seat as Frances’ hare-brained scheme hurtled along like a runaway train heading for a precipice. A thoroughly entertaining read!” —Sarah Haywood, author of the bestselling Reese’s Book Club Pick The Cactus
“Sharply observed, morally chaotic, in moments both madcap and elegiac, Sedating Elaine does the surprising work of putting human emotional damage on display first for laughs, and then for love, if the reader’s heart can bear it.” —Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen
“Sedating Elaine is a tasty caffeinated jolt that grabs you from page one and races you to a surprisingly moving conclusion—I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Dawn Winter's dazzling wit is beautifully coupled with a natural ability to explore difficult themes like loss and forgiveness. A winning debut.” —Steven Rowley, bestselling author of The Editor and The Guncle
“Sedating Elaine has everything I crave in a novel: a delightfully subversive premise; a narrator with her life in shambles; and a voice that crackles with heart and wit. What really kept me turning the pages, though, was Winter's unexpected and poignant look at loss and grief. I loved this book." —Grant Ginder, author of The People We Hate at the Wedding and Let’s Not Do That Again