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Sweet Sorrow

Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
Length: 13 hrs and 5 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,242 ratings)

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Summary

One life-changing summer, Charlie meets Fran...David Nicholls’s highly anticipated new novel, narrated by Rory Kinnear. 

In 1997, 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. Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.

©2019 David Nicholls (P)2019 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Nicholls is fabulous on first love and Kinnear’s narration strikes the perfect balance between teenage defiance and vulnerability." (Daily Mail)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Simply superb.

I went last week to a launch of this book hosted by Bookish in Crickhowell. David Nicholls told his audience how he constructed this story and a little of his references. As it was a largely female audience (I was one of only three men), and as I hadn't read the book's cover notes, I asked David what turned out to be a naive question; Can you tell me what is in your book for the male reader? He was polite and gave an interesting and informative answer; now I have read the book I know what is in it for men and I cringe at the stupidity of my question. There is so much in it for men, so much for everyone.
The book is one of the most tender portrayals of a young man, growing up and experiencing difficulties whilst also encountering first love. I defy any reader to be unaffected by this story. Brilliant!

39 people found this helpful

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Engrossing and real

I couldn't stop listening to this and devoured it in a few days. It is funny, sweet, sad and feels like a real story without contrivances of plot getting in the way. I really liked it.

21 people found this helpful

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Absolutely hilarious

I downloaded this to listen to on a tediously long journey and was laughing SO much I really didn't mind being stuck on the M25. Rory Kinnear is a fantastic actor and brings a comic nuance to all the characters. It's simply brilliant. My 12 year old listened too and found it funny, although we were laughing for different reasons. For me, author has absolutely nailed my childhood. I cannot recommend this as a listening experience highly enough.

38 people found this helpful

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something truly special

Once upon a time I believe I used to have something of a skill for a well turned phrase and the well considered delivery of an emotion or thought both verbal and written.. but as with pretty well everyone else it’s something I’ve lost a little if not almost all of as I’ve grown up. It’s really very sad.
What we have here however is an author of such rare ability that not only can he recall in fine detail the beauty of young love but can somehow despite his middle age deliver it in such a way that you’d swear he was diarising it right now.
For me this book was everything I know and everything I didn’t know about what I knew all at once. It took me back to the same time in my own life so realistically I could genuinely feel those emotions resurface (which is a little awkward for me as a middle aged man myself)

It was simple, honest and truly beautiful in every sense and I’m bereft now that it’s finished.

The narration was perfect too

Outstanding work sirs. Thank you

26 people found this helpful

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I ended up reading this book !

I hated the audio version of this book and read the book instead. Too much ‘annunciation’ for me.

11 people found this helpful

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Breathtakingly good

Just astonishingly good. The narrator is a genius, creating such charming and believable voices for a cast of wonderful characters. Charlie’s consistently hesitant voice totally captures every nuance. Quite the most wonderful, touching, funny, poignant writing. Truly in awe that anyone can write like this.

21 people found this helpful

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Nostalgic and poignant

I love this new novel from David Nicholls. Beautiful storytelling, as always, and so wonderfully evocative of teenage summer holidays.

Very relatable characters and some very funny and heartwarming moments too.

Just lovely!

7 people found this helpful

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My book of the year

I absolutely adored this. To the point where I never write reviews but I need to pass this on, I feel like I need to press it in to everyone’s hands with a “read.this” - this book is beautiful and hilarious and lovely, the performance of it really makes it and I absolutely adored every minute of it. I cannot stress enough how much you should read it. Having never read David Nicholls before I’m a total convert, what an incredibly talented writer. I’m off to buy a physical copy now that I can give out to Everyone I Know.

6 people found this helpful

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Sweet sorrow when this ended!

I loved this - a bluff witty funny veneer covers achingly poignant depths of the ecstasies and agonies of first love and the ripples of pain and confusion following parental marriage break-up - without ever sounding maudlin, tedious or indulgent. It's tremendous and well up to David Nicholls' standard - buoyant, peeled back realism with a satisfying flare for language.

Charlie is a very ordinary boy, bored with school, mucking up his GCSEs, wasting time on his bike (it's 1997) with his mates, filling in time in the anonymous could-be-anywhere Sussex town with a part-time job at a filling station where he's making useful cash from his own scam on scratch cards. His life is turned around by by meeting Fran who goes to private school, not Charlie's undistinguished comprehensive. She belongs to an amateur drama group - Fran is to be Juliet and Charlie is pulled in as Benvolio. The parallels with the Shakespeare are worked in throughout, giving the whole an extra enjoyable dimension - for a start we know that Fran and Charlie, despite their very real love for one another, won't last. The development of their relationship is totally real and Charlie's inner blossoming is tremendous and touching.

The break-up of Charlie's parents' marriage caused by the destruction wrought by bankruptcy is deeply affecting - Charlie's mother trying to explain to him why she has left, and the deterioration of his father into a stinking, drinking, broken man who Charlie has to care for is searingly real and moving. The whole novel goes from Charlie's adolescence to 20 year later when we know he's going to meet Fran again so that we thoroughly know him..

Roy Kinnear is a brilliant narrator and could not possibly be bettered. He captures exactly the many variations of dialogue, mood and nuance as well as the humour. 5+ stars all round.

6 people found this helpful

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nostalgic and so well written

So beautifully put together, I found it very difficult to stop listening. Very funny and moving too. I feel like I could start from the beginning and enjoy it again. The narration is also fantastic and I'm really pleased I listened on audible for this reason.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Cary
  • 09-03-20

Not up to expectations...

I thoroughly enjoyed both One Day and Us by Nicholls. Not so this outing however. Could not get fully engaged with the characters especially the protagonist, Charlie Lewis who's an out-and-out winger and whiner. The girlfriend, Fran held some initial promise but for her inexplicable continued attraction to Charlie.

That said, Nicholls' writing shone in a few set pieces.

Bottom line: but for the truly exceptional reading performance by Rory Kinnear, I likely would have given up on the book a third of the way through...

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  • David
  • 23-09-19

Loved it!

Brilliant, moving, believable story. Nicely narrated. Wonderfully understated in the finest English way. A great listen. Heading for his other works!

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  • mariareads
  • 23-07-19

Excellent narration made it even better!

I loved the story, but it was the skillful narration that made this book extra special. Without the nuance that the narrator brought for each character, some of it would have been lost on me (English is not my first language). Six stars.