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.
I finished this on audiobook on New Year's Eve. I had pretty low expectations of it, having listened to Nicholls' follow up "The Understudy" in 2006 and thinking it easygoing fluff but nothing more.
This is much the superior novel. It's still pretty lightweight, but it had moments where events made me cringe, which is the sort of emotional connection I don't make with every book.
Brian Jackson, the narrator, did remind me of Adrian Mole rather too strongly as a comic creation, especially in his pining for the Pandora-like Alice Harbinson and it is pinpoint accurate in its recreation of 1980s student life. A fun read.