For Once in My Life is the first novel by British magazine columnist and editor Marianne Kavanagh.
For years their friends have been telling them that they are ideal for each other, what with George's love for 1940s jazz music and Tess' preoccupation with vintage fashion.
But while they almost encounter each other many times, something (a bout of gastro, a close friend's heartbreak, lost contact lenses) always prevents them from actually meeting. And anyway, Tess is happily settled with her logical, organised and totally gorgeous boyfriend, Dominic, isn't she?
And yet, neither George nor Tess feels their life is heading in quite the direction they had hoped: George's passion for jazz falls by the wayside as he marries ambitious lawyer Stephanie and finds himself teaching small children to play the piano; renovating a flat in Penge with Dominic ensures that Tess' dream to own a vintage clothing shop remains just that. When they finally do meet, their joy at recognising their soul mate is tempered by the seemingly inextricable attachments they have made in their separate lives.
Kavanagh has peopled her novel with characters recognisable from everyday life and faced them with common dilemmas. These eminently likeable (or, in some cases, detestable) characters and some ten years of their lives are captured in some marvellously descriptive prose. The listener is treated to laugh-out-loud moments generated variously by witty dialogue, sit-com (meeting the French supplier) and almost slapstick situations (the borrowed Paris flat); parts may well reduce the listener to tears. And many words of wisdom are spoken (often by unexpectedly astute individuals).