“Nostalgic, tender, and achingly cool.”—Josie Silver, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One Day in December
A film-obsessed romantic rewrites the script to understand why his “picture-perfect” love story crashed and burned in this wonderfully clever debut.
Ellie had the quizzical eyebrows of Broadcast News–era Holly Hunter and the neon-red hair of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At least that’s what caught Nick’s attention when he met her on the night of 2008’s historic presidential election. A cinema buff and devotee of great love stories, Nick always fancied himself the Tom Hanks of his own romantic comedy, and when sparks flew with Ellie that night, he swiftly cast her as the Meg Ryan of his story. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie just as he loved his job as a film projectionist: wholly, earnestly, cinematically.
But now Ellie has moved out, convinced that “the fire’s gone,” and Nick is forced to sift through his memories to figure out where it all went wrong. That night was a perfect meet-cute, yes, but was their romance as destined for a “happily ever after” as he’d thought? Was he really the rom-com hero he believes he’d been? Or did this Harry let his Sally down? Peppered with references to beloved movies, Love, Unscripted explores how even a hopeless romantic can learn that in real life, love isn’t—shouldn’t be—like what we see in the movies.
Nicholls's inventive, clever debut follows a lovelorn London film projectionist between the 2008 and 2012 U.S. presidential elections. In 2012, cinephile Nick Marcet recounts his erstwhile relationship with Ellie Brown, a budding journalist with the "same quizzical eyebrows and flawless skin" as "Broadcast News era Holly Hunter." Nick met Ellie on the night Barack Obama was first elected president, at a mutual friend's party as the gathered Londoners eagerly await the vote count and quaintly debate Obama's leftist bona fides in relation to their own country's politicians. Occasional omniscient "intermissions" offer poignant snapshots of their love's growth and limitations, due to Nick's obsessive digressions into film references and Ellie's unhealed childhood trauma over the avoidable loss of her brother to appendicitis. As Nick struggles to piece together an explanation for the breakup, he wonders what someone of Ellie's "caliber" ever saw in someone so "bog standard" as himself. He replays the scenes of their fights, still unable to see how Ellie's decision to leave London for a career opportunity with the Associated Press in New York could have benefited both of them. Nicholls writes with verve and wit, elevating the unsurprising plot with infectious film commentary, the pratfalls of young love, and a time capsule of London life before Brexit. Nick Hornby fans will appreciate this.