You Are Here by David Nicholls review – love is in the fresh air

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Focus / Culture 47 Views comments

The One Day author’s new will-they-won’t-they tale, about two divorcees who find themselves walking the Lakes and Pennines, is a great comic novel – and superb on the landscape

The proximity of the publication of David Nicholls’s sixth novel, You Are Here, to the screening of the superb Netflix remake of One Day gives the new book an added sense of poignancy. If One Day (2009) saw Nicholls as a writer in his mid-40s looking back nostalgically on the loves and losses of twentysomethings, here we find him approaching 60 and turning his attention to a couple either side of 40. If One Day was angst and high drama, the setup here is softer and, initially at least, more obviously comic. But the shadow of the earlier novel, of Dexter and Emma’s will-they-won’t-they romance, hangs over this book.

Michael Bradshaw, a geography teacher reeling from a series of personal setbacks, most painfully his separation from soon-to-be ex-wife Natasha, decides to walk Alfred Wainwright’s famous coast to coast path through the Lakes and the Pennines. His happily married colleague Cleo, despairing at his inability to move on, turns what was going to be a solitary excursion into a party. She invites a motley gang along for the first leg of the walk: Conrad, an “absurdly attractive” pharmacist; Cleo’s taciturn teenage son, Anthony; and Marnie Walsh, a copy editor, “aged 38, of Herne Hill, London”. There was supposed to be another friend, Tessa, whom Cleo had invited as a potential match for Michael, but she drops out at the last minute.

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