[This is a subjective review. This is just my opinion of this book, not a summary!]
Relationships are hard work and sometimes it is not easy to stay in love with someone or even keep in touch with an old friend. This novel takes it upon itself to show just that.
My biggest fear was that this would be just barely above the usual chick-lit with flat characters and a corny love story and I was positively surprised that it was not. Even though I don’t think Emma and Dexter, the two main characters are even remotely likeable I kept reading because they are still interesting and complex. The way their friendship, their ups and downs and even their personal lives apart from one another are depicted just seemed very realistic to me. For once a novel shows that keeping up a relationship, any relationship (be it a friendship, a marriage, or a romantic one) is hard work.
My first thought when I read about this novel’s premise was „it’s Harry and Sally all over again“. But actually this concept of meeting the two characters only once a year and seeing how they and their relationship develop seemed quite interesting, which is why I wanted to read the book in the first place. And I have to say that Nicholls did execute this really well.
Although the book was a bit depressing with all the hopelessness and my-life-is-going-nowhere stuff from Emma and the drugs-and-glamour lifestyle of Dexter in the beginning, I think that the point of this story really is to show that life is not always what we want it to be and the perfect job/husband/friend is not just going to fall into your lap. Albeit not a new or groundbreaking discovery, I personally liked this message.
So why won’t I give this more stars?
Well, one huge flaw was that I didn’t get why Emma kept pining about Dexter. You can tell from the very beginning that he is not a nice or likeable person. Emma seems to be rather intelligent but due to her low self-esteem she fails to see that she could do better than him or any of the guys she’s dating. This is probably also the reason why it takes her so long to find the courage to do what she wants professionally as well. I just don’t like weak and male-dependent female characters which made it hard for me to like this novel unconditionally.
That said, I liked the story and even (without revealing too much) the ending, which a lot of people seem to hate. And since the writing was quite decent there is no reason this book should get any less than three stars from me.