1988 – 1992 Early Twenties
‘That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it and think how different its course would have been. Pause, you who read this, and think for a long moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have abound you, but for the formation of the first link on that memorable day.’ – Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
It was 15th July 1988, Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.
So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?
Well, one year Dexter went travelling, another year he is in India, while Emily is teaching English in school and dabbling with writing; then Dexter became a famous TV presenter with a string of girlfriends, Emily is engaged to be married so on and so forth, always with Dexter’s corny opening line “Don’t I know you from somehere?” when they meet up. “Dex and Em” went for a holiday as friends when they were younger, met in reunions, marriages, funerals, for lunches, but Dexter always attached with a woman, yet when he is down and out, the first person he ever thought of, the person he ever wanted to speak to, is Emily.
1993 – 1995 Late Twenties
‘We spent as much money as we could and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of m belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one,’ – Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
It is a special book. One that handles growing up and ageing deftly and effortlessly. The witty banter and endearing dialogues and conversation is first rate, the funny antics of Dexter while his wife is away and he is left with his baby daughter alone over the weekend is hilarious, the “Where are you Moriarty?” game that Dexter played with his future brother in-laws that went awfully wrong really got me laughing in stitches. I can already imagine it, this book makes a good romantic, feel good movie.
There is a lot going on in the book. Every chapter is opened with a new year. You will see two friends of opposite sex tiptoed between being friends and being lovers, and how their friendship evolved and like all friendship how it fell out as time goes by. You will relate to Emily’s emotional struggle of loving her boyfriend, but not in love with him. Perhaps you have heard these flirtatious words spoken around your circle of friends during high school, when one boy said to a girl:
“If by 40 you are single, I’ll marry you,” just as Dex said to Em.
And remember how you can be in love with someone but just didn’t like the person anymore?
‘Dexter, I love you so much. So, so much, and I probably always will.’ Her lips touched his cheek. ‘ I just don’t like you anymore. I’m sorry’
1996 – 2001 Early Thirties
‘Sometimes you are aware when your great moments are happening, and sometimes they rise from the past. Perhaps it’s the same with people.’ – James Salter, Burning the Days
I am two minds about how I feel about the book. It was all going very well and I was savouring every page of the book, reliving some of the “lost” youth (LOL) and wondering what could have been if I had chosen a different path in life. Then I was caught by surprise by an event that happened and it all went downhill from thereon. It’s like you were reading the book on a high just when you should hit the climax, something happened that sap all your energy away, you know what I mean?….
I still couldn’t quite get my head around why the book took such a drastic turn. It would be spoiler to reveal what it was about. It’s like watching a romantic comedy and it turned into some soppy Anna Karenina or City of Angels (where Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan were in it) or The Time Traveler’s Wife towards the end. It’s just doesn’t seem right! I just wanted to scream and rant that the story need fixing, fix it back!! Fix it back to the way it should be.
2002 – 2005 Late Thirties
‘They spoke very little of their mutual feelings: pretty phrases and warm attentions being probably unnecessary between such tried friend.’ – Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
Don’t let my ranting stop you from reading the book. It’s good fun, hilarious, entertaining and the pages will turn itself.
Carpe Diem, before you lose it forever….
I am reading this for A to Z and Typically British challenge.
Hardback. Publisher: Hodder & Soughton 2009; Length: 437 pages; Setting: 80’s to Contemporary England. Source: Library Loot. Finished reading at: 27 Feb 2010