I really, really liked this book. It is a story of a relationship that takes place over 20ish years. Emma and Dexter hook up right after college (university) graduation, then go their seperate ways. BUT, they stay in touch, and their lives wind in and out of each others. They become best friends, always with that question of something else. The unique format of the book just gives you snapshots of what is happening. Each chapter tells you what is happening on July 15 of that year. Sometimes it's a letter, sometimes they each get their own section, and other times the narration takes you back and forth between both characters.
During the years, Emma and Dexter both go through career ups and downs, personal tragedies and triumphs. Their relationship is fluid and fluctuates throughout the story. I was afraid at the beginning that it would be too sad and unfulfilling, like they would never speak their true feelings, or be on the same page. But really the opposite is true. While they both hold back at times when you want them to put themselves out there, there are many moments of sweet honesty and tough decisions. I think it makes for a great story.
Both Emma and Dexter grow on you, and I think they are well developed and likable. Even though Emma has a bit of that everyone knows she's pretty except her, and Dexter does a lot of drinking, drugging and sleeping around. Did I mention this is definetly an adult book? Plenty of Foul Language, Sex, Drugs. But for me it wasn't overwhelming, and is for the most part not offensive. But again, their British, so....there are quite a few profanities, etc.
Here are some parts I liked to give you a feel for the book:
Dexter writing a letter to Emma. "It's raining like crazy outside, harder even than in Edinburgh. It's CHUCKING IT DOWN, Em, so loud that I can barely hear the complilation tape you made me which I like a lot incidentally except for that jangly indie stuff becaue after all I'm not some GIRL."
About Emma after reading a poem she had written in the past. "Once more she shuddered, as if peeking beneath a bandage, and snapped the notebook shut.....She had reached a turning point. She no longer believed that a situation could be made better by writing a poem about it."
"While not sentimental, there were times when Dexter could sit quietly and watch Emma Morley laughing or telling a story and feel absolutely sure that she was the finest person he knew. Sometimes he almost wanted to say this out loud, interrupt her and just tell her."
She suddenly felt a startling sadness, so stopped for a moment, turned and took both of Dexter's hands in her own.
'Can I say something? Before we go back to the party?'
'I'm a little drunk.'
'Me too. That's okay.'
'Just...I missed you, you know.'
'I missed you too.'
'But so, so much Dexter. There were so many things I wanted to talk to you about, and you weren't there--'
Actually just re-reading that brings up so many emotions for me!
'Sometimes it seems that she can chart her life by what she worries about at three a.m. Once it was boys, then for too long it was money, then career, then her relationship with Ian, then her infidelity. Now it is this.'
There is also cool insight from the narrator. Like this whole page about weddings and the different waves. The first being during university, then 20's, then early 30's, then the second marriages. It is well-written, and then all the weddings in the book after that follow neatly into those categories, as if proving his theory.
The relationship between Emma and Dexter is the best part of this book. Watching them each struggle, succeed, and really just grow up is a good read. I just have to warn you that it is not all happy. I shed a few tears. And remember I warned you about the profanity and sleazing. Mostly Dexter.
So they are making a movie about this. I'm crossing my fingers it won't be R. Because really, it doesn't need to be to tell the story, but it so easily could be.
PS. My sister,who recommended the book, is upset about the casting because this book is SO BRITISH, and an american was cast as Emma. We'll have to see if she can pull it off!