Those of us who love David Nicholls’s work feel a sense of apprehension every time he announces a new project: can it possibly be as good as his last? And thankfully, we can all rest easy, it really can. We adored the grown up melancholy as well as the set-piece hilarity of his previous, Booker-longlisted novel, Us, about a middle-aged couple in crisis. And his screenplay for the television version of Edward St Aubyn’s electric series of Patrick Melrose novels remains one of the best things we’ve seen on television.
In his latest novel, Sweet Sorrow, he returns to first love, the subject of his smash hit bestseller One Day. Our hero is Charlie Lewis who has just finished his GCSEs in a small Sussex town in the summer of 1997. In describing the town, Nicholls recalls Tracey Thorn writing about her adolescence in her memoir Another Planet and how one’s hometown can seem a metaphor for a life where nothing materialises.