Starter for Ten- David Nicholls

Cover of "Starter for Ten"

Cover of Starter for Ten

Starter for Ten was written by David Nicholls, the same author that wrote One Day.  It tells the story from the point of view of Brian Jackson, as he makes the transition into adulthood. Brian, who has been living with his mum, following the death of his father, when he was twelve or thirteen. They live in Southend, a place where few, if any, go on to higher education.

When he starts out he has fantasies that he will spend his time at university discussing literature, political philosophy and other weighty topics while using words like ‘eponymous’, ‘utilitarian’ and other big words in regular conversation. He says there are “three things he expects to happen at university- one was to lose his virginity, two was to be asked to become a spy, three was that he’d be on University Challenge.”   As for the first two, the first was taken care of before he left home, the second was unlikely, but the third…  and so we follow Brian’s clumsy exploits as he becomes part of ‘The Challenge’ team all while trying to woo the beautiful, ‘love of his life’ Alice.

This book is essentially about the often painful process of growing up, and becoming an adult, all the while trying not to lose too much of yourself in the process. Brian finds that balancing his ‘new life’ with the elements of the old that he would like to keep are especially difficult.

I enjoyed this book, however it is not in the same class as One Day. This is a good read, and an easy read, with plenty of laugh out loud moments. This will especially appeal to anyone who has spent any time at university, doubly so if you ever spent time at university being ‘outraged’ by the latest ’cause de jour’. It’s a good book, and worth picking up.

One Day- David Nicholls

I initially started reading One Day by David Nichols, because after having read a lot of heavy, ‘serious’ literature lately, I wanted something light. I had heard some discussion about it in connection with the film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. I was intrigued, but suspected that it would just be a bit of light ‘chick-lit’ froth, that would be enjoyable, but hardly ‘life changing’.  How wrong I was. This is a wonderful book, and one I suspect will become a well-worn favourite to be returned to regularly like an old friend. Which is appropriate because that is what the book (and the film too I suppose)  is all about.

The main premise of the book is that we begin with the meeting of the two main characters following their graduation from university, on the 15th July 1988, which is also St Swithin’s Day. We then revisit the two characters every year for the next nearly 20 years, always on the same day. With each chapter, and each passing year, we are quickly become acquainted with what has been happening in their lives over the last twelve months.

As I said, I loved this book. The two main characters are great, with great depth. We don’t always ‘like’ them, indeed there are times when the male lead in particular makes me want to throw things at him, but we still retain a desire to keep up with the events of their respective lives, and how their friendship grows and survives through all that life can throw at any relationship.

It is also an emotional book, surfing the joys, the sadness and the in-between of these two people.Be warned, you will need to keep the tissues on stand-by on several occasions. But there are also plenty of laugh out loud moments too. Although this will probably appeal more to women than men, it is an excellent book that I would happily recommend it to anyone.