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Starter for Ten – David Nicholls

Starter for Ten - David Nicholls

Starter for Ten – David Nicholls

This is my favourite David Nicholls novel so far.

Here’s the blurb …

The year is 1985. Brian Jackson, a working-class kid on full scholarship, has started his first term at university. He has a dark secret—a long-held, burning ambition to appear on the wildly popular British TV quiz show University Challenge—and now, finally, it seems the dream is about to become reality. He’s made the school team, and they’ve completed the qualifying rounds and are limbering up for their first televised match. (And, what’s more, he’s fallen head over heels for one of his teammates, the beautiful, brainy, and intimidatingly posh Alice Harbinson.) Life seems perfect and triumph inevitable—but as his world opens up, Brian learns that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

This was fun – it was light-hearted and entertaining (and there was no tragedy!). There is also a great adaptation. Definitely worth a read if you remember the 80s.

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Us – David Nicholls

Us - David Nicholls

Us – David Nicholls

I have read One Day and seen the adaptation of Starter for Ten (the book is in my to be read pile). I had seen this in the book store a few times, but finally decided to buy it while on a trip to Melbourne – I thought it would be a fun and light travel read.

Here is the blurb …

‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’
‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.
He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.
So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.
The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.
What could possibly go wrong?

This novel has some fun moments – Mr Nicholls is a great comedic writer and he creates fabulous family dynamics. I must say (without giving away any spoilers) that I was disappointed by the ending. Does ‘literary fiction’ always have to end badly? Anyway, that is not a criticism about the writing I just want a happy ending! It is a well-written and witty novel with great characters (who have the occasional pithy one-liner). It would be a great movie – although I still want my happy ending.

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One Day – David Nicholls

I seem to be hearing quite a bit about this book and when it was described as ‘chick lit’ for boys I thought I had to read it.

Here’s the blurb …

You can live your whole life not realising that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.

15th July 1988 Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that?

And every year that follows?

As I graduated in 91, the era that this story was very familiar to me – mixed tape anyone? On the surface the story was very simple; girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy doesn’t seem as enthralled with the girl.  It opens in 1988 (St Swithins day) Dexter and Emma have hooked up and spent the night in Emma’s bed. It seems this could turn into something special, but university is over and Emma is going to change the world and Dexter is going travelling.

Every year we get an update on their lives and their relationship. Emma is lost, she has a string of dead end jobs (working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant). Dexter, on the other hand, lands on his feet and becomes a famous television personality. We read about their relationships with co-workers (usually doomed) and their on going friendship. This novel is about how a person life changes over time and how relationships evolve.

Nicholls is a witty writer and I enjoyed reading this novel immensely. I think calling it ‘chic lit’ for boys is misleading because it is at times very sad (unexpectedly so).

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