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Starter For Ten Paperback – 1 Sep 2003

385 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; 1st Trade Paperback edition (1 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340734868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340734865
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 23.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,228,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Nicholls trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. His TV credits include the third series of Cold Feet, Rescue Me, and I Saw You, as well as a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About Nothing and an adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, both for BBC TV. David has continued to write for film and TV as well as writing novels, and he has twice been nominated for BAFTA awards.

David's bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and David has written the screenplays for film versions of both STARTER FOR TEN (released in 2006, starring James McAvoy) and THE UNDERSTUDY (not yet released).

David Nicholls' third novel, ONE DAY, was published in hardback in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. It has since gone on to sell over 2 million copies and has been translated into thirty-seven languages. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award. David wrote the screenplay for Lone Scherfig's film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway, which was released in 2010.

David's fourth novel, US, has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Is David Nicholls' Starter for Ten a throwback? Many readers look back with nostalgia to a recent golden age of comic writing, when David Lodge, Malcolm Bradbury and Tom Sharpe were producing some achingly funny work, with brilliantly realised characters. But Nicholls' sharp-as-nails novel has all the comic acumen of his great predecessors (along with their frequently-utilised university campus milieu) and, like Lodge and co., Nicholls writes real characters, not just boobies suitable only for pratfalls and sexual embarrassment. So even though the situations may often be ridiculous, we're still engaged by the protagonists.

Here, they are university student Brian Jackson and aspiring actress Alice Harbinson. Brian has arrived at his place of learning with a stronger desire than the acquisition of knowledge: he's going to be a star of TV's hottest quiz. But his progress on "The Challenge" is somewhat stymied by his growing desire for the beguiling Alice, struggling to make her mark as an actress. And as obstacles impede their affair, Brian becomes more and more convinced that only overwhelming success on the quiz show will win her.

What makes this novel such a delight, apart from the strongly drawn characters (both major and minor) is the coruscating dialogue: Nicholls writes comic dialogue like a dream, and his targets are many and varied: the idiocies of love and sex, the ludicrous pursuit of meaningless TV celebrity, fat cat businessmen lining their pockets--you name it, and it's probably here; Starter for Ten is a panoply of modern Britain with all its glories and excesses writ large. Nicholls wrote the third series of the hit TV series Cold Feet, which is as good a demonstration of his credentials as one could wish for. But Starter for Ten is his best work; there are no false notes struck by miscast actors, just prose that has a comic energy not often encountered these days. --Barry Forshaw


Starter for Ten is the debut of the year; a recommendation repeated by all who come in contact with it ... Trust us, you'll love it (Arena)

Nicholls' portrayal of student affectations is accurate and funny ... clever and well-written (Independent)

Brilliant... we would recommend it to anyone (Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan)

A funny, touching novel reminiscent of the classic film Gregory's Girl with an authentic 1980s backdrop (Sunday Mirror)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By International Cowgirl VINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Way better than the cop-out film version, Starter for Ten is funny, clever and a wee bit more subversive than you might expect. Leading `man' Brian Jackson flounders about in the shallow end of adulthood as he sets out to make his mark at an unnamed university during the 1980s. Ah, the decade that taste forgot - cue deely boppers and Rubik's cubes, you might be thinking. But you'd be wrong. From right-on Rebecca to Brian's taste in music, even the archaic price of a dinner of two... Starter for Ten is resolutely `eighties', without ever forcing it down your throat.

There's nothing earth-shattering here, let's be honest. The slightly careworn plot tells the age-old tale of acne-strewn adolescent chasing unattainable blonde bombshell. But the joy of it is that Nicholls is brave enough to portray young Brian in all his spineless glory. Whether handling a prickly Glaswegian or offering solace to his oldest friend, when it comes to moral dilemmas our `hero' has a refreshing knack for doing the wrong thing. A man for whom the phrase `faux pas' was surely coined, he's also a dab hand at saying the wrong thing, to genuinely quite side-splitting effect. As you might expect from a TV scriptwriter, Nicholls has a real gift for dialogue. The ending isn't entirely unexpected, but gets a fresh twist that makes it happy and sad at the same time without selling out. Recommended.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a quick and very funny read - I picked it up in an airport based on the fact that it was set in my era, and it was a light read for my journey.

I disagree with other reviewers comments that none of the characters are likeable. In particular, the main character, Brian, a spotty geek who tries too hard to be liked with his cringe-inducingly inapproprate jokes is engaging.

Set in the 1980s, Brian is off to university. He struggles to keep his drop-out school friends, fit in at university and pull the girl of his dreams by joining the University Challenge team. If only he were cool enough!

I won't give it away, but the book builds to a crescendo a couple of times with episodes that had me almost gasping with horror whilst nearly wetting myself laughing at the same time.

Would make a good TV drama.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By EmmaJ on 18 April 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book after reading One Day, I was keen to get my hands on anything else written by David Nicholls (undoubtedly a brilliant writer). I found this book a let-down after the brilliance of One Day, possibly because I couldn't get to grips with the adolescent male psyche.
Parts of it are incredibly funny and like One Day his writing is very real, as are the characters. The pace of the book was rather slow and the subject matter quite depressing, saying that I still read it quickly and was keen to see what happened at the end. It seems that everything built up to the final chapter which was over as soon as it started leaving me feeling rather unfulfilled.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Amy on 17 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
This book resonates with my own life and experiences on so many levels; an Essex girl myself, familiar with all Brian's Southend haunts, I read this book during my difficult first year at University. I would come back from lectures, deflated, disappointed and lonely, brew myself a cuppa, reach for the HobNobs, and curl up in my room with this book. So many of his experiences seemed to parallel my own, and perhaps this is why I found it so enjoyable (and laugh-out-loud funny), and certainly allowed me to look at my own situation in a less serious light. Two years on I'm writing my dissertation and about to graduate, but I still continue to recommend and lend this book to anyone who will listen.
Buy this book (along with 'Swallowing Grandma') for anyone you know who is about to leave for University, it will certainly cheer them up in their lonelier moments and help them feel less lonely and weird. :)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sombrio on 29 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Contrary to what I had hoped after coming across so many glowing reviews of this book, I found myself jacking it in after only a few chapters. Up till now I have felt myself to be an unfailingly loyal fan of British writers, (as opposed to other English-speaking nationalities, primarily American). I've always loved the way that Brits rarely go overboard exaggerating for effect, or sugar-coating plots and characters for their readers' insatiable literary sweet tooth.

But even though this book has wonderfully tight sense of irony and genuine humour, very shortly I found that I just couldn't take any more of that quality which is being pointed out in the famous Pink Floyd verse,... "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way."

A reasonable dose of irony and self-deprecation does indeed, bring a sense of genuineness to a book. But when every single thing the protagonist does ends up falling flat on its face,.... after a while, the story line just becomes predictable and monotonous. It turns into 'sponge-of-time fiction' as un-believable as any of Walt Disney's portrayals of life - where everything, in the end, goes off like an unfailing skyrocket of success. I feel that for literature to represent life, it too, needs be a mixture of highs and lows, successes and failures. A solid mass of either one or the other just dulls the palate very quickly.
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