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Sweet Sorrow

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

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By David Nicholls

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3 reviews

Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.


08 Feb 2022

Donna May

St Just Thursday Evening Reading Group 6th January 2022.

Sweet sorrow. David Nicholls.

As often happens: some readers liked this book (with a few reservations); some were less enthusiastic; and one did not like it at all.

Those in favour thought it ‘an easy read’, but one which still had depth. They commented that the author has a talent for capturing the feelings of teenagers and particularly teenaged boys: their feelings of awkwardness, the issues of class and belonging, the lack of a sense of proportion about things, the influences of peer groups and the feelings of first love. The way Charlie was sucked into playing in Romeo and Juliet because of his boredom, his problems at home and his desire to get to know Fran, was considered very believable; as were the descriptions of the players and the rehearsals and the off-stage dramas. One reader thought the narrative was about how Charlie in his adolescence was trying to work out what was the right thing to do, when those around him, including adults of his own family, were doing things wrong, and how successful or otherwise he was in all this.

The reservations of those who enjoyed most of the book mostly concerned its ending – the reunion scene at the end was thought somewhat less convincing than the rest of the book – and the stories left untold, for instance that of Charlie’s mother.

Readers who did not like the books said it was ‘a lot of words about nothing very much with a disappointing ending’; ‘far too wordy, far too long and over indulgent’; ‘Can’t believe this was the same author as “Us”’; and ‘what a boring load of twaddle’.

It would probably be fair to say that this group enjoyed the previous David Nicholls title, “Us”, more than this one.

This book was read during December 2021 and the continuing restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus, and so the discussion was not 'live' as usual, but took place via a Facebook group, email and telephone conversations.

20 Aug 2019


David Nicholls brings Romeo and Juliet to life in a tale of class and love and loss. Oh! To be 16, in love and dreading your ‘O’ level results. Bravo! This (like all his novels) is a must read.

15 Jul 2019


A perfect summer read - I defy you to read this and not be immediately transported into Charlie's world. David Nicholls' best book yet.

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