01 June 2011

I Could Love You by William Nicholson

Flap Copy from ARC: "Belinda decides that she wouldn't feel too guilty having an affair, but then finds out that her husband has beein doing more than thinking about it. Meg loves Belinda's husband, Tom, but Matt, Meg's plumber, loves Meg. Jack wants Chloe, but all he can get is Alice, and Alice feels like she can't get anybody. Art and love intersect in this tragic tale of growing up and growing old, and the question is asked: can attaining happiness ever be as simple as we want it to be?"

This novel is quite reminiscent of the movie 'Love Actually' - set in and around London during the Christmas holiday season, a cast of interconnected characters spanning all age groups seeks meaning in love and life. Nicholson has reasonable success making the characters' voices distinct, though for the first section of the novel I did have a hard time keeping track of which people were related, which were just friends and which ones were the most unknown.

The middle aged-group are battling the monotony of monogamy and the challenges of childrearing; the adolescents are either over-sexed or under-experienced, trying to navigate the complexities of sex and relationships; the oldest character has given up on life, feeling a lack of recognition of himself in the world, while the youngest child is desperately seeking attention and love in all the wrong places.

Nicholson places his novel soundly in modernity, referencing and also mocking our obsession with things like Facebook and also tackling our perception of art, both traditional and modern.

I enjoyed this book, I found myself engaged in the characters' struggles and rooting for some and against others. I think Nicholson has an entertaining novel here that does a good job of capturing the way people often overthink their lives to an almost comical degree. I wish that some of the characters had been more developed, I wanted more from Matt the plumber and from Meg, his live interest - I think they might have been the most interesting stories in the book and their non-resolution left me a little wanting. But in general, I liked the book, it was an enjoyable read - I give it 3 stars."

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