Title: Sweet Sorrow
Author: David Nicholls
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…
In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.
Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.
But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.
The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.
Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.
Having eagerly anticipated the new novel by one of my favourite authors, David Nicholls, I hoped Sweet Sorrow would live up to the excellent standard of his previous novels. I’m glad to say it does; it’s a beautifully written book that takes us through 16 year old Charlie’s summer as he waits for his GCSE results. So in the sense of the characters in this book, it’s obvious that they are very different to those in his previous novels, but no less likable.
For the first time ever Charlie falls in madly in love, and because of this (accidentally) ends up joining a theatre group who are putting on a performance of Romeo & Juliet. From there Charlie’s world becomes our world, and I found myself taken back to my own teenage years (as a female, so obviously with a different perspective to Charlie and his friends, but with many elements of course the same). Nicholls’ writing about this confusing and vital time in a teenager’s life stirred in me a real feeling of nostalgia and, at times, poignancy, all of which carried through to the very last page and left me thinking about this book long after I finished it.
The writing in Sweet Sorrow is excellent, managing to be sweet and really lovely without feeling cloying or cheesy. I don’t know if anything can really live up to the excellence of Us for me [read my review here], but as a main character Charlie felt more relatable and was incredibly entertaning, with some lines that really made me laugh. Wonderful reading for any time and any mood!