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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Moving, wickedly observed, warm, uplifting and above all blindingly funny, Starter for Ten hits the spot time after time. Read this book (Jack)
A toe-curlingly embarrassing and cleverly observed comedy ... it'll have you wincing and laughing simultaneously. Fabulous (Company)
A bittersweet coming-of-age tale ... Brian conjure[s] up strong echoes of one of that era's literary heroes, Adrian Mole ... A fine, funny book (Heat)
Spry, affecting debut ... If it's possible to wince with your whole body, that broadly equates to my experience of reading it (Time Out)
A funny, touching novel reminiscent of the classic film Gregory's Girl with an authentic 1980s backdrop (Sunday Mirror)
Nicholls' portrayal of student affectations is accurate and funny ... clever and well-written (Independent)
Hilarious ... you won't be able to put it down (OK)
Painfully funny (Elle)
Warm and funny ... Hilarious (Daily Mirror)
Hugely (and deservedly) hyped ... Achingly funny (She)
I laughed out loud, I cringed in recognition, and more than once I paused in admiration at an observation so wry, so on the money, I wondered why it had never occurred to me before. There have been many pretenders to the throne of Hornby; David Nicholls is his legitimate heir (Mike Bullen, creator of 'Cold Feet')
For conjuring up all those cringeworthy moments of youth, this read is unrivalled (Glamour)
Relentlessly delightful (Mil Millington)
Absolutely fabulous ... brilliantly funny (Jenny Colgan, author of Amanda's Wedding)
Wonderfully written ... This is a lovely look back at a time when you were young enough to think that anything could happen (The Word)
What a delight... David Nicholls is enormously talented, he has an exquisite eye for details, humour and the ridiculous and he deserves every ounce of the huge success he will undoubtedly have with this pleasure of a book (Anna Maxted, author of Getting Over It)
I absolutely loved Starter for Ten (Emily Barr, author of Backpack)
From the Publisher
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.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Dance! I will woo her through the medium of contemporary dance.
The record changes, and its Sex Machine by James Brown, which is fine by me, because I do feel like getting up and being a sex machine now you come to mention it. I carefully place the can of Red Stripe on the floor, where it is immediately kicked over, but I dont mind, and it doesnt matter. I wont be needing it where Im going. I start to do some warm-up moves at the edge of the dance-floor, a little gingerly at first, but Im glad I wore my brogues instead of my Green Flash, as the flat soles slide gratifyingly on the parquet floor, giving me a kind of funky, loose-limbed feel. Then warily at first, like Im back at the ice-rink, clinging to the walls, I carefully make my way on to the dance-floor itself, and get up get on up over to her.
Shes dancing in her little group of five again, tight as a fist, one of those impregnable defence formations that the Roman infantry used to repel the barbarians. The cat-eyed girl sees me first, and emits her high-pitched warning signal, and Blonde Kate Bush breaks formation, turns and sees me and looks me in the eye and I take my cue, let the music enter me, and dance like I have never danced before.
Im dancing as if my life depended on it, biting my lower lip seductively, both as an erotic signifier and an aid to concentration, and looking her straight in the eye, daring, just daring her to look away. Which she does. So I slide on round, back into her eye line, and I let rip. Im dancing as if I was wearing the Red Shoes, and then I think maybe I was right, maybe its because of those pants, the pants Mum gave me, the Red Pants, but whatever it is, Im dancing like James Brown, Ive got funk and soul and a brand-new bag, Im the hardest-working man in show-business, Im a machine made specifically for the purpose of sex, sliding and spinning through 360, 720 degrees and once actually through 810 degrees, which leaves me facing the wrong way, and momentarily disorientated, but its okay because James Brown is saying take it to the bridge so I do, I take it to the bridge, wherever that is, and on the way to the bridge my hand goes to my neck and rips away the white cardboard dog-collar in a gesture of righteous contempt for organised religion, and I hurl the cardboard dog-collar onto the floor, into the middle of a group of people whove formed a circle around me now, and are clapping and laughing and pointing in awe and admiration, as I spin and duck and touch the floor, my cardigan flying free behind me. My glasses have steamed up a bit, so I cant see Kate Bushs face amongst them, just a glimpse of that chippy, dark-haired Jewish girl, Rebecca whatsername, but its too late to stop dancing now, because James Brown is asking me to shake my moneymaker, shake my moneymaker, and I have to think for a minute because Im not sure what my moneymaker is specifically. My head? No, my ass, of course, so I shake it as best I can, anointing the crowd around me with sweat, like a wet dog, and then all of a sudden theres a jab of horns and the song is over and I. Am. Spent.
I look for her face among the cheering crowd, but shes definitely gone. Not to worry. The important thing is to have made an impression. Our paths will cross again, tomorrow, one p.m., at The Challenge auditions.