Nick has fallen in love with Ellie, but nothing is straightforward. Nick is a projectionist in a small cinema, Ellie is a photographer with prospects. This is a lovely comedy with more than a hint of pathos. There are situations which can bear so many interpretations, and the overthinking Nick usually works through them all. As films and references to them come and go throughout, this is shown to be a complex and sophisticated romantic comedy. This is not only the story of a couple who have their own highs and lows but also two families with backstories and stresses, challenges and choices. This book looks at love in the twenty first century, where life is unexpected and the rules undefined. Nicholls has written a book with some brilliant characters which are well developed and in most cases funny, touching and painfully realistic. Nick is a man whose interior dialogue reveals much of his panic with daily life, as he tries to do his best. Whether it is getting stuck in a window, quoting films or making genuine attempts to help his friends and family, Nick is always realising all the things that can go wrong. This is a most enjoyable book written with a keen ear for dialogue and everyday situations. Running jokes and consistent characters make this book a really engaging experience, which I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review.
The book opens with a Prologue which shows that Nick has always lacked confidence with the opposite sex, and has long been obsessed with films. His job at a small cinema is more than a money earner; he has a good friend as a boss who will humour his obsessions with naming the projectors and try to help him come to terms with the fact that Ellie has moved out. We return to an American election party. It is 5th November 2008, when it seems that the incredible might actually happen; Obama may actually win. The party is an odd one, and the most amazing thing happens as Nick meets Ellie. Not that it is a hugely romantic moment, but he soon realises that she is immensely attractive with her distinctive flat, her sympathetic sense of humour, and her devastating playlists for every occasion. Despite the political arguments raging around them they realise that this is something special, as sections recalling that night throughout the novel reoccur. Nick is as always a little self destructive as he is so determined that this is the perfect evening that he tries to walk away, convinced that the best thing to do is preserve this night in his memory, of the perfect woman with who he could have spent his life. Fortunately he was roundly disabused of that view, and the whole relationship begins.
It is so difficult to convey just how gently funny this book is, with conversations that have the ring of truth, film references that are not always comprehensible, an unusual story of a love story that is grounded in the mundane truth of missed planes, cringe worthy situations, and a sister who deserves a novel of her own. Families, films and funny conversations, this novel is a real hit, a five star experience, and I recommend it as a grown up comedy for today.