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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at the complexities of love and modern life...
British writer William Nicholson shines a light on love - young love and old love - in his new novel, "I Could Love You". Set in London in that fearful December, 2008, when the world was reeling from the financial meltdowns, Nicholson introduces ten or so main characters, and a few peripheral ones, who face the Christmas holidays with eagerness and trepidation. Much of...
Published on May 7, 2011 by Jill Meyer

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would that I could've loved 'I Could Love You' but I couldn't quite. 3.5 stars
This is my first Nicholson novel. I came to it as a big fan of his "Shadowlands," the made-for-TV movie about bachelor Oxford don and author C. S. Lewis and his relationship with American poet Joy Gresham, that then became an acclaimed West End/Broadway play that morphed into an Oscar-nominated movie. I also loved his movie "Firelight." So I was really expecting this...
Published on June 13, 2011 by Sharon Isch


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would that I could've loved 'I Could Love You' but I couldn't quite. 3.5 stars, June 13, 2011
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This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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This is my first Nicholson novel. I came to it as a big fan of his "Shadowlands," the made-for-TV movie about bachelor Oxford don and author C. S. Lewis and his relationship with American poet Joy Gresham, that then became an acclaimed West End/Broadway play that morphed into an Oscar-nominated movie. I also loved his movie "Firelight." So I was really expecting this tale of a large cast of British suburbanites and their intersecting lives over the course of the 2008 Christmas season to be my kind of novel. What I wasn't expecting was that I'd sometimes have to put some effort into not nodding off or that frequently my mind would wander to what-if thoughts of how much better a novel this might have been if someone who really understood women had created the women's roles--someone who could plumb their depths, give them some distinction and dimension and make them as memorable as Nicholson makes his male characters. But they're not. With the possible exception of Alice, Nicholson's female characters are basically forgettable, blah stereotypes. His male characters, on the other hand,--particularly the beleaguered screenwriter, the cheating plastic surgeon, the aging portrait artist and the lonely plumber who restores violins--were obviously carefully crafted and empathetically wrought--the kinds of people I truly enjoyed getting to know and spend time with and whose pain, hopes and angst I could feel. And I love the notion that the cure for all that is to buy the guy a shed. (Hey, wait a minute: That give-him-a-shed thing as a solution to male angst also came highly recommended in the fabulous--and also British--Shania Kindersley-Sarah Vine book "Backwards in High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female." Are the Brits onto something there?, I asked in the original incarnation of this review. Only in terms of terminology, I've just learned. Here in America, I'm told, we call them "man caves.")

The author's note on the back page says that this novel "picks up some of the characters of my earlier novel 'The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life,' which was set in 2000, eight years earlier." Had that note been at the beginning, I might have read that one first. Not sure it would have made a difference, but I would have liked having that option.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Love Actually" in format, but without insisting on happy endings., June 29, 2011
This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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In an English village, a number of intertwined characters fall in and out of love as they reflect on their life and relationship choices. Particularly affecting are the narratives of a mistress and the repairman who comes to fix her bathroom, and those of young people who want to be in love as desperately as they want to love specific people.

The author is a scriptwriter by profession and the book reads a bit like a script -- big on dialogue, only the necessary description to make the scenes work, but what's surprising is the level of introspection for the characters that he manages to get in. I'm also particularly persuaded by his willingness to let stories end badly or to leave them open ended. I understand this is a sequel to an earlier novel, which I am now eager to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The many sides and shapes of love, May 26, 2011
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D. Quinn (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Could Love You, May 14, 2011
This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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What makes us fall in love with that special someone? Is it something about that person, or is it something within us? This is the topic that William Nicholson explores in this sometimes funny, sometimes austerely frank book.

Belinda is tempted to complicate her life with an affair, until she discovers she is on the other side of one. Her husband is having an affair! Chloe is madly in love with an older man who shows her how it feels to be "dumped". Matt, Meg's plumber, is in love with Meg, but doesn't know how to approach her. Jack is disappointed that all he can get is Alice, until he realizes the simple and comfortable way they are together. Meanwhile, little Casper tries to find his "half father" in the big city, and former great artist, Anthony Armitage, tries to find logic in this world of modern art. Oh what a tangled web we weave!

And Mr. Nicholson has definitely woven a confusing web here. It was very difficult at first to try to keep all the characters and their respective triangles straight. But, after I became accustomed to it, I admit, I enjoyed the peek into the intimate lives of his characters. Mr. Nicholson made me really think about how we fall in love, and why we consider someone to be beautiful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at the complexities of love and modern life..., May 7, 2011
This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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British writer William Nicholson shines a light on love - young love and old love - in his new novel, "I Could Love You". Set in London in that fearful December, 2008, when the world was reeling from the financial meltdowns, Nicholson introduces ten or so main characters, and a few peripheral ones, who face the Christmas holidays with eagerness and trepidation. Much of the trepidation deals with "love", "fidelity", "honor", and "happiness".

Nicholson's book brings to mind the movie "Love, Actually", which also featured many characters in a short time frame, also at the holidays. That was a very good movie, and this is a very good book. Some other reviewers have remarked on the number of characters and how difficult it was to keep them straight. I suppose there were many characters, both old and young, but somehow their stories overlapping made it easier for me to keep track of them. Is "love" and the pursuit of it limited by age? Nicholson seems to say "no", that love and happiness can happen at any age. Is it "fate" or "kismet" that bring people together? Sometimes it is, and sometimes love can happen - and reignite itself - under bad circumstances.

Nicholson has written a thoughtful novel. It comes after his first novel about many of the same characters, "Secret Intensity of Everyday Life" which I have not read but will do. It's always interesting to see how characters in a book age and learn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Human Comedy - beautifully crafted and quite moving, May 6, 2011
This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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This novel, taking a look at the lives and loves of the British middle class, is squarely is the great tradition of Balzac's "Comedie Humaine." That's not to say that this book is a comedy, although it has its comic moments, but it takes a broad view of the inexplicable foibles of human beings in their search for love, sex, God, happiness, professional fulfillment and the need to be loved and appreciated.

The cast of characters is very large but the author exhibits tremendous skill is painting and delineation each individual so that they really come to life and stand out. The characters are loosely connected to one another in a kind of daisy chain. Belinda, who is very beautiful but "hollowed out by a combination of insincerity and dieting," is thinking she might enjoy having an affair but is wounded to the core when she discovers that her surgeon husband Tom is really having one. Tom is thrilled that Meg, a younger executive, really desires him and is willing to talk dirty -- but Meg really needs love. Meg's plumber Matt, who fixes violins in his spare time, thinks Meg could be the one for him. But Matt's mother, a nagging hypochondriac, cannot let her son go and will do anything to sabotage any relationship he may form.

Belinda's daughter Chloe sleeps with many boys and toys with them, breaking their hearts -- until she herself is toyed with by Guy, an older man and the father of Chloe's friend Belinda. And so it goes on.

One strength of this book is that the characters span all ages from childhood through sulky adolescence into youth, middle age and old age. Nicholson treats his characters gently and without condescension, observing their flailing attempts to find meaning in their lives with sympathy even when they blunder into horrible mistakes. "For all the changes of name and location," he observes, "the same things keep on happening and the world doesn't come to an end."

But this book is firmly grounded in time and place and Nicholson has a neat satirical touch, gently mocking the earnest attempts of well-meaning people to reduce their "carbon footprints." He takes a few, well-aimed swipes at modern art and modern movies. A screenplay about a stockbroker who becomes a shepherd is transformed into one about a shepherd who becomes a stockbroker -- and then into a plot in which the shepherd's dog becomes a stockbroker.

Matt, the plumber, one of the most sympathetic characters, describes the painstaking way in which he restores violins and the wonderful craftsmanship involved. That same attention to detail and beautiful craftsmanship describes the artful construction of this book. Most of the characters do not achieve happy endings, although some do -- but they find ways to muddle on. The end of this book is genuinely moving. I do heartily recommend this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A highwayscribery Book Report, May 5, 2011
This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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If you are middle class, or doing a little better, "I Could Love You," is not so much an escape as it is a mirror.

William Nicholson's characters can be difficult to distinguish from one another. They have generic names (Alice, Laura, Jack), are all white, and each luxuriating in the search for meaning or LOVE.

They talk similarly as well. Idioms, slang, and varied voices are not the author's strong suit, but narration itself changes pitch and tone as his assemblage of characters take turns under the literary microscope.

"I Could Love You," comes off as one of those ensemble movies that Hugh Grant stars in, featuring lots of people living in close proximity, yet only mildly conscious of one another.

"Love Actually," comes to mind.

And that's the set-up. Sometimes paths cross unexpectedly and narrative flames are sparked as a result.

This is a zeitgeist piece including references to Facebook and the MP3 player. If you are wondering whether you'll have much in common with these folks, you will, unless you're the kind who helps people in Africa or works as an undercover agent in the war on terror.

Whether you'll care about them is another question, but Nicholson is a writer of true command, a deft hand relaying a story that seems milquetoast on the surface, but offers edgy and insightful moments, meanings, and passages.

"Once you know that you don't know," he writes, "everything changes. The absurdity of so much of our lives ceases to be a puzzle. Of course we're ridiculous. Of course we make fools of ourselves. Why wouldn't we? We are fools. We know so little. But are not any the less loveable for all that."

One of the novel's strengths is its multi-generational tack. Literature has never scanted young love, but Nicholson renders the complexities and epiphanies of middle-age very nicely.

For example, Tom Redknapp finds himself oddly removed from a big issue at the hospital where he performs plastic surgeries. As the conference room debate rages, he is thinking about his extramarital affair:

"In some strange way he feels as if he's started his life over again. This time round there's no drive to achieve, no deferring of pleasure in the interests of later gain. This time, the pleasure."

The art world comes in for some particularly pointed observations the indoctrinated, and not-so-indoctrinated, may find provocative.

Nicholson's portrait of the forgotten and declining painter Anthony Armitage is a strong departure and counterpoint to the rest of the youthful, mainstream ensemble.

But as the title suggests, love is the big issue here and the characters' experiences are varied enough to offer succor, advice, and cautionary tales for those who like, enjoy, desire, or think a lot about the big L.

The author does an intelligent job of putting something across that is light and entertaining, yet somehow substantive and unsettling.

His larger point is best summed up in this passage, also from the brain of Tom Redknapp, daydreaming of his paramour who is no great shakes in the looks department:

"Nothing to write home about. And there's the wonder of it. Beauty turns out not to create desire after all. Desire creates beauty."

With its many contemporary and hip references, "I Could Love You," is not bound for the classics shelf, but its author was not trying to achieve that.

Still, what Nicholson sets out to do, he does well in this easy and entertaining read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional insights into what drives us all: Wanting to be wanted., May 4, 2011
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atmj (Rochester, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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This book takes a bit to get into. However it is worth this investment. There are about 13-15 characters and you are given moments of their life. At first I was struggling to understand who was who. In fact, I wrote down a chart so I could keep track. As you see the drama unfold, this keeps you locked in. That's the tough thing with a book like this. It keeps you reading and then next thing you know, you are done.

Nothing that happens here is earth shattering in itself, but some of the revelations to the characters (and to you) are profound.

In one section you get three perspectives of a man cheating on his wife and the writing is magnificent. The author captures the why and the innocence (If you can imagine that) in the motivation. He captures the cycle of ache the wife goes through, as well as the loss to the other woman. What makes it particularly ironic is that this was the wife that had been daydreaming a fling of her own from her steady and uninspiring husband.

Throughout the book, you get a sense of each character's thoughts and ideas. I like that the author captures that people sometimes act and then think. Or even observe themselves acting and being astounded at their own performance. I found in this book the dialogue was well thought out and realistic. This can be especially difficult to do well, when the characters are arguing.

Like life, nothing is tied up neat with a bow. You see from this point the characters will move on. You have hopes for some, while you know others are still floundering.

This book is more than a sum of its parts and well worth the time to read it. As it's not the author's first, I plan to look into some of his other works, I was so impressed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Love, Actually" in a book., April 30, 2013
This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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It's British, it's multiple storylines somewhat interconnected with eachother, and ultimately it's about love. There's a cheating spouse, unrequited love, true love, and love frustrated by a too-dependent family member.

Yep, it's "Love, Actually" in book form.

I enjoyed it. Well-written and engaging.

(While I am comparing it to "Love, Actually," I should probably add that the love stories aren't tied into as many neat bows as they are in that movie, nor are they as contrived. There's no running in airports, and the Prime Minister does not make an appearance. The similarities are largely that each character is going through a love-related crises, the characters lives are interconnected, and some stories are resolved more fully than others. Also, I love "Love Actually", so comparing the two isn't a knock in my book.)
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3.0 out of 5 stars I Could Love This If..., June 23, 2011
This review is from: I Could Love You (Hardcover)
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Though the writing is at times, exceptional with clear, concise prose and intellectual insight into people's thought processes, I could not love this book. There are many disparate characters, some of whom intertwine, but I couldn't bring myself to care for any one of them. All are obsessed with love - wanting it or having it - yet there's very little if any joy in the telling and an overall melancholic air that makes reading it a labor of love. That is, if you are attracted to that sort of thing and perhaps it would appeal to those experiencing similar circumstances. As for me, it was like a bad blind date with someone who spends the evening regaling you with tales of love gone wrong.
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I Could Love You
I Could Love You by William Nicholson
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