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It Had to Be You Paperback – 23 Jun 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (23 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007286295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007286294
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 477,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for It Had to Be You:

‘A beautiful, surprising, sometimes searingly painful account of the eight days between a married woman’s sudden death and her funeral.’ Jonathan Coe

Praise for Obstacles to Young Love:

‘Painfully hilarious, wonderfully observed and slightly sour at the same time.’ Guardian

‘Thank goodness for David Nobbs! He carries on the comic tradition of P G Wodehouse with this marvellous new book; a sweet and touching love story written with his trademark sly and subversive humour. A perfect antidote to these dark times.’ Joanne Harris

Praise for David Nobbs’s novels:

‘Probably our finest post-war comic novelist’ Jonathan Coe

‘A delicious entertainment, as comic and sharp as they come’ Guardian

‘The most satisfying novel I have read in years’ Express

‘A marvellously comic novel’ Sunday Times

‘One of the most noisily funny books I have ever read’ Michael Palin

‘Very funny sketches of provincial newspaper life’ Sue Townsend

‘We should be thankful for the continuing brilliance of David Nobbs … Going Gently is richly funny and rich in many other ways. Buy it’ Mail on Sunday

About the Author

David Nobbs’s first break as a comedy writer came on the iconic satire show That Was The Week, That Was, hosted by David Frost. Later he wrote for The Frost Report and The Two Ronnies and provided material for many top comedians including Les Dawson, Ken Dodd, Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd and Dick Emery. Apart from his twenty novels, David is best known for his two TV hit series A Bit of a Do and for The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. David Nobbs died in 2015 at the age of eighty.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
James Hollinghurst is driving to a meeting with the American head of Globpack and he is afraid he might be losing his job.

"Globpack! How had they come up with that? He had inherited a bit of his dad's artistic taste and he found it hard to believe that a career that had begun in the Basingstoke Box Company had led him, Nobbs inexorably, to being employed by a firm called Globpack"

While this is going on his wife, Deborah, is driving to a rendezvous with a Man in a White Linen Suit who is hoping that after their lunch they will retire to the room he has booked in the hotel.

She never arrives. Deborah is killed in a collision on her way to her prospective lover and everything changes.

James and Deborah have been married a long time and, while still happy, their lives had inevitably settled into a routine and James has had a mistress, Helen, for several years. OK they both knew that he would never leave Deborah, but now she has gone, what does he do? Is there a formula for telling one's mistress that your wife is dead? "Silence. Words churning through her mind. Thoughts and emotions churning uncontrollably. No social formula in which to clothe her naked feelings. He senses it all, and he felt for her. He knew what it was like"

When a tragedy occurs such as this family relationships and tensions come to the fore. James has always felt inferior to his elder brother Charles, a world famous concert pianist, and his younger brother Philip has suffered in the same way. James's daughter Charlotte has not spoken to her parents for five years and he doesn't know why; his son Max is working in forestry in Canada. All these people have to be told.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this after it was included by another famous author in his books of 2011, he even said it should have been a contender for the Booker. Imagine my surprise when Nobbs' main character, James, refers to one of said author's books as "a very fine novel". A bit too much mutual appreciation seems to be going on here and I felt slightly mislead.
Having said this, 'It Had to be You' is not a bad book. It's a nicely constructed story of a week in the life of James, UK manager of packaging manufacturer Globpack, after his wife Deborah has died in a car crash. What James discovers about Deborah, his family and, most of all himself, is interesting and the author manages to throw in enough plot turns and surprises to keep the reader engaged. There are some nice observances on modern life and some amusing asides.
However, I'm not sure that this book really knows what it wants to be. It wasn't moving enough to be a genuine depiction of a widower's grief and neither was it so laugh-out-loud funny that it could be considered a comic treatment of this theme. Unlike a certain famous author, I don't think this will be featuring in any literary prize lists for 2011.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book.
The cover talks about Nobbs as a comic novelist; and it is true - he is a great comic novelist. But this isn't a comic novel. It is a thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent, amd frank exploration of a man dealing with the death of his wife. Which makes it sound very 'worthy' - but it isn't at all - it is gripping, funny, surprising and it blows the lid on the world of global packaging.
A new novel by David Nobbs always goes to the top of my reading list, and never disappoints.
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Format: Paperback
David writes with humour but his novels aren't all comic. Yes, there are some fine one liners amongst the prose but there is so much more. He writes with a passion that keeps the pages turning.

It Had to be You covers that awkward time between a death and a funeral - awkward enough without the problems that main character, James Hollinghurst, has brought upon himself. At times it was so truthful as to be sad. At times I wanted to shout at the selfishness of the main character but, by the next page, I was completely on his side. David took a simple life story and made it into compelling reading. I wondered as I read it how many people had been in this particular situation and wondered equally what their outcomes had been.

I really enjoyed it.
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I have to say I agree with another reviewer upon this site who states that there is so much more to David Nobbs than just being "probably our finest comic novelist" as Jonathan Coe has stated of him (Sorry, "probably"?? There is no probably about it - he is our finest comic novelist) This book is warm, witty, has some great comic moments, some echoes of Reggie Perrin, but above all it is full of wisdom. From the moment that James Hollinghurst arrives at the end of that initial car journey and Deborah Hollinghurst fails to arrive at hers, we are living James's dilemmas with him. Sometimes I liked him a lot. Sometimes I didn't like him very much at all. But this did not, however, in any way mar my reading experience. It takes a novelist of great talent and wisdom to create characters who are so fully rounded that they appear so utterly human to us - so human that they can reflect what we ourselves are, i.e. not just one person, but many persons throughout the course of even just one day. In short, I adored this book. It made me laugh a lot. Unexpectedly, it made me cry twice (and you don't get that very often from your run of the mill comic novelist).

However, I should append a footnote of warning to this review. I've been a fan of David Nobbs since I read the Reggie Perrin series at 17 years' old. After I read "Second from Last in the Sack Race" I was hooked. In confess, I love anything by David Nobbs. It's a bit like the time I went to see Green Day - my husband asked me how they were and I told him they were fantastic. But then I love them so much that if they'd played their own shoelaces for three hours I would have thought they were fantastic. See what I'm saying? All I can say is I loved this book. I'm sure you will too.
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