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.
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) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
March 07, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from A Question of Attraction by David Nicholls
All young people worry about things, it's a natural and inevitable part of growing up, and at the age of sixteen my greatest anxiety in life was that I'd never again achieve anything as good, or pure, or noble, or true, as my O-level exam results.
I didn't make a big deal about them at the time, of course; I didn't frame the certificates or anything weird like that, and I won't go into the actual grades here, because then it just gets competitive, but I definitely liked having them: qualifications. Sixteen years old, and the first time I'd ever felt qualified for anything.
Of course, all that was a long, long time ago. I'm eighteen now, and I like to think I'm a lot wiser and cooler about these things. So my A-levels are, comparatively, no big deal. Besides, the notion that you can somehow quantify intelligence by some ridiculous, antiquated system of written examinations is obviously specious. Having said that, they were Langley Street Comprehensive School's best A-level results of 1985, the best for fifteen years in fact, three As and a B, that's nineteen points -- there, I've said it now -- but I really, honestly don't believe that's particularly relevant, I just mention them in passing. And, anyway, compared to other qualities, like physical courage, or popularity, or good looks, or clear skin, or an active sex life, just knowing a whole load of stuff isn't actually that important.