A teacher of mine once said that a good love story always needs a reason the lovers can’t be together, otherwise it’s not a story. That’s why it’s hard to write powerful love stories set in the contemporary west. If a boy and a girl like each other, they just go to bed, right? End of story. Writers have to be inventive to create interesting love stories these days. Like Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife where one of the lovers keeps disappearing into a loophole in time – clearly a barrier to any romance.
This week I read David Nicholls' One Day. It’s a great contemporary love story, and I’m so glad I neglected my kids (sorry kids) to read it this week. Most of my reactions are similar to this review at Savidge Reads.
As a writer, I admire this book because at first glance there isn’t such an insurmountable barrier between the would-be lovers. Yet there is a real struggle towards love for both of them, which makes a compelling read. The barrier between them isn’t so much physical – the novel starts with them in bed together, shortly after they’ve met, but the real story is about how (and if) they will ever stumble towards a real relationship, when they seem to want different things and inhabit different worlds.
Nicholls’ story examines how they develop and change, how the balance of power delicately tilts between them and truly illustrates William Faulkner’s belief that good writing can only be based on “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself”. Go read it.