All the Hopeful Lovers by William Nicholson

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All the Hopeful Lovers by William Nicholson

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This above-average novel centres on the 'I' word: infidelity. Cross-generational, male, female, mothers, daughters, sons and fathers all see the hurly-burly of emotions as they choose, for whatever reason, to be unfaithful to their partners.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Quercus Publishing plc
ISBN: 978-1849163880

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I had previously read Nicholson's The Society Of Others and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this book. Nicholson writes a modern-day story which is relevant and bang up to date. We first meet Laura and Belinda. Two middle-aged, middle-class wives and mothers. Feeling sort of okay with their lives generally but all too aware also, that the marital 'spark' in their marriages is now a low peep - if there at all. Belinda in particular, knows she is bumbling along in life. She's not sure what to do to make things more interesting in the sex department. A fling would probably help - but would it be the answer?

And so the two women have a heart-to-heart over a leisurely lunch taking in old loves and what-might-have-beens. But they also acknowledge their ageing bodies, a few grey hairs and their teenage children having better social lives (and probably sex lives too) than themselves. They give a collective sigh and know deep within themselves, that life will continue as normal. Better the devil you know etc. But will it? And do you? The final parting shot is the lovely couple of lines from one of the women who says Did I really eat a whole creme brulee? I must be having a breakdown. I loved that.

The various and varied boyfriends, girlfriends and children (most of whom are teenagers) are introduced to the reader one by one. Because there's quite a handful of characters, it gives the book pace which is good as the storyline is very short. It covers just a week, a week leading up to Christmas 2008. Cleverly, Nicholson is able to tap in to the already heightened feelings and perhaps a little stress as teenagers return home from university for the break and parents are getting ready for the countdown. And of course, just because we're all meant to be jolly and happy doesn't mean we are. Far from it, in lots of households.

Nicholson has certainly managed to get under the skin of many of his characters. Even the teenagers. There's a very perceptive couple of lines about Jack (one of the sons) which gives a good indication of his character In matters of the heart ... there are those who make the phone call and those who wait to receive it. Jack is a waiter by the phone. Terrific. Some will relate to that, no doubt.

Suddenly, Belinda receives some startling news from a very strange source. Her emotions go into over-drive and life with Tom, her husband, will never be the same for her again. Ever. And Tom? Well, there lies the difference between men and women when cheating is concerned. Tom wants to say what's all the fuss about, it was only a bit of harmless fun. But does he have the courage to say it? Nevertheless, we see a marriage in free fall and nice, easy-going Belinda acting totally out of character. Nicholson's writing is so good that in parts I felt myself wincing as Belinda tries to claw back the years.

I loved the bristly and uptight Diana. Her sharp conversations were a joy. But even here, domestic bliss and harmony was not all it seemed. Apparently smart furniture in a smart house in a smart location will not do it by themselves. And Nicholson manages to have some fun here and there. Especially with conversations between some of the characters. Some are truly heart-felt. Others totally frivolous.

The whole melting pot of live and love is here in this novel. All that we put ourselves through in order to attract and sustain a mate. In Nicholson's own words We all long to be objects of desire. I'll leave you to answer that one. A terrifically engrossing novel which gets right to the heart of the matter. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Got You Back by Jane Fallon.

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