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A Question of Attraction
Synopses & Reviews
The year is 1985. Brian Jackson, a working-class kid on full scholarship, has started his ?rst term at university. The usual freshman anxiety over ?tting in is compounded by the gap between his own humble origins and the privileged backgrounds of his better-off classmates.
Brian also has a dark secret—a long-held, burning ambition (stoked by his late father) to appear on the wildly popular TV quiz show University Challenge—and now, ?nally, it seems the dream is about to become reality. He’s made the school team, and they’ve completed the qualifying rounds and are limbering up for their ?rst televised match. (And, what’s more, he’s fallen head over heels for one of his teammates, the beautiful, brainy, and intimidatingly posh Alice Harbinson.) Life seems perfect and triumph inevitable—but as his world opens up, Brian learns that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Reminiscent of such classic coming-of-age works as The Graduate and Goodbye, Columbus, A Question of Attraction marks the literary debut of David Nicholls, one of England’s most highly praised television writers. It is an unforgettable story of love, class, ?nding one’s place in the world, and the all-important difference between knowledge and wisdom.
"This entertaining first novel by an English television writer tells the story of Brian Jackson, an unworldly but affable college freshman whose main ambition in life is to compete on the BBC quiz show University Challenge (a Jeopardy-like game show in which schools compete against each other; in the U.K., the show is a national institution). Between securing one of the four coveted spots on his school's team for the show, Brian chases after two girls: Alice, a beautiful but aloof actress who is also on the squad, and Rebecca, an artsy intellectual who thinks Brian's ambition to be on the show is silly and bourgeois. A visit from Brian's hometown pal Spencer brings the class tensions roiling beneath the novel's surface to the fore, but Nicholls is more interested in comedy than pathos. Some of the humor is very British ('I'm sharing my house with a right pair of bloody Ruperts'), and Nicholls waxes overly nostalgic for his 1980s setting, but the writing is often sharp and funny (number four on Brian's list of New Year's resolutions: 'Become lightly muscled'). Unexpected developments at the final University Challenge match bring the novel to a rather unlikely conclusion, but readers will root for hapless, engaging Brian as he struggles his way out of adolescence. (Apr. 13)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In his first novel, which has all the hallmarks of a classic coming-of-age story, Nicholls creates one droll, perfect set piece after another....[T]his is sublime and brilliant comedy." Booklist (Starred Review)
"I feel for A Question of Attraction as I do the pick 'n' mix counter at Woolworth's: nostalgic, giddy, happy, sick, and then devastated when there is none left. I could not put this book down. I love it. Literally." Alan Cumming, author of Tommy?s Tale
"Absolutely fabulous. And so painfully reminiscent: God, it whipped me right back. That's exactly what it was like for me. Brilliantly funny." Jenny Colgan, author of Talking to Addison and Amanda's Wedding
"A Question of Attraction is the funniest book I've read in years and I am now awash with gratitude that I will never again have to be eighteen, and that my university days are well and truly over." Emily Barr, author of Backpack and Baggage
About the Author
David Nicholls' teleplay credits include Cold Feet, I Saw You, and Rescue Me, which he also created. He also cowrote the film Simpatico. A Question of Attraction is his first novel. He lives in London.
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