Surely I can't be the only BGOer to be reading this?
It is David Nicholls first novel since One Day, which I loved, so I had high hopes for this, and I really enjoyed it.
Douglas, a biochemist not unlike a more believable Don from The Rosie Project, has been married to artist Connie for more than 20 years when she announces out of the blue that she thinks they should separate. They have a big family holiday planned, a Grand Tour of Europe with their son Albie before he starts college, and she agrees to defer a decision until they get back. Douglas is devoted to his wife and decides to save his marriage.
The story of their trip is then offset with flashbacks of the history of their relationship.
Douglas is a believable, well rounded character. I found his uptight nature very sympathetic - I am a bit like that too. The family scenes are well done; there is a fundamental clash of outlooks between Douglas and Connie which is painful. And, a bit like One Day, there are many observations about modern life.
The one thing that bothered me was Albie. I found him quite old for his years, and it was the one unrealistic note for me in the book. But maybe that's what happens when your mum's an old hippy. Or I must know a lot of very sheltered teenagers.
I initially was going to just buy this book for a friend's birthday after browsing for recently published books with good reviews on Amazon. However, the comments were so positive and the cover so appealing I dropped a copy in my shopping cart for myself and I'm really glad I did.
Essentially the book covers the relationship between Emma and Dexter, who meet on their graduation day. Each chapter revisits them wherever they are on the same day for the next twenty years.
I've not read Nicholl's other novel, 'Starter for Ten', but had seen the film because the lovely James McAvoy was in it. Those who commented on that book here have said how accurate Nicholl's was in recounting what life was like as a students in the 80s. Nicholl's eye for detail shines again but his accurate recall extends through the 90s and into the present day. As I read what was happening to the characters I began to think about where I was and what I was doing at that point in time. The characters became very real to me; they were really like friends by the time I finished and then I simply didn't want to leave them. Nicholl's creates two people and a relationship which I found very believable; I laughed, cried and wanted to shake some sense into both of them throughout.
I would definitely recommend for a holiday read even though now I'm still not sure about the way the book was concluded. If anyone else has read this, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.