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It Had to Be You
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It Had to Be You

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  23 reviews
One man, five very different women. James Hollingshurst is a man shaped by those who surround him. And in James's case, it's some very different women, be it his trusty wife Deborah, his hapless PA Marcia or his ex-girlfriend Jane. And there's one woman in James's life who looks set to upset the status quo... But a tragic accident is about to shake the bedrock of life as J ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 23rd 2011 by HarperCollins (first published June 1st 2011)
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Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
For a comedy about death, ‘It Had to Be You’ really could do with being:

a. Funnier
b. Darker

Our protagonist is that most Nobbs-ian of creations, a frustrated, middle-manager with a keen eye for the absurdity of the world around him. True, James Hollinghurst is a middle-manager on a far more global scale, but the line from Reggie Perrin to him isn’t a long one. When his wife dies suddenly, James finds himself suddenly feeling relieved with a sense of freedom, coupled with confusion and anxiety o
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The storyline is cliché'd, most (but not all) of the characters are predictable and dull, and I knew how the main character would evolve emotionally and personally in the beginning of the book, which is a bit disappointing. I generally disliked the main character, James Hollinghurst, from start to end. I suspect the reader is supposed to find him whiny, unsympathetic and pathetic in the beginning, but even his strained transition to a "better pe ...more
Grace Harwood
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have to say I agree with another reviewer upon this site who states that there is so much more to David Nobbs than just being "probably our finest comic novelist" as Jonathan Coe has stated of him (Sorry, "probably"?? There is no probably about it - he is our finest comic novelist) This book is warm, witty, has some great comic moments, some echoes of Reggie Perrin, but above all it is full of wisdom. From the moment that James Hollinghurst arrives at the end of that initial car journey and De ...more
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I hadn't realized this was by the same author as "Reginald Perrin" and am now motivated to go and find these books (fond memories of the TV series).
The story starts with the death of the protagonist James's wife - and the author brings humor to this in a way only the British can: embarrassment from his friends who ask if he could possibly not make the funeral on Thursday as they have tickets to the semis in Wimbledon; James wondering who will do the ironing now and maybe he could take it round t
Richard Barnes
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of Nobbs' best - his characters are real, flawed people with real flawes relationships.

It is Nobb's stunning writing that will make you care for a man who has cheated on his wife, and the complicated aftermath of her death.

This is a powerful depiction of grief - in times when we are encouraged to sign books of condolence for people we've never known, and weep for tragedies that are far, far removed from our lives - when so many people grieve via the Internet because they want to feel somethi
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
How do the English deal with loss? James loses his wife in a car accident. She was on her way to her lover and he had been having an affair for five years. Then there is the family: his brothers, their mother and of course Deborah's family. The book shows people for what they really are: self centered. Great dialogue.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I picked this up because I knew I recognized the author's name. If I had remembered why, I'd have put it back on the shelf! The hero of this book isn't a million miles from Reggie Perrin - and I'm never likely to get enthusiastic about a story with a cheating, lying, self-centred whinger as its hero. James is a man who's been stringing some poor woman along as his mistress for five long years - then as soon as his wife dies, he dumps her. He feels terrible about it, of course, poor man. Personal ...more
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
It Had to Be You is a really effective comic-tragedy by David Nobbs, famous for Reggie Perrin, reworking his collapse of an ineffectual middle class man under crisis. It is funny throughout, surprisingly moving, and the twists, when they happen, are unlikely, but well-layered. I found this novel supremely readable and one of the most purely enjoyable books I have read this year. Nobbs has such an ease.
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
IT HAD TO BE YOU. (2011). David Nobbs (1930-2015). ****.
Nobbs was a well-known figure in England in the world of fiction, film and TV. In his early career, he was a writer for That Was the Week That Was, hosted by David Frost. Later, he developed two of his novels into shows adapted and televised by the BBC. My favorite was ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin,’ which I watched at least twice and laughed both times. In this novel – one of twenty of his works – he tells the story of James Hollin
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
After seeing the TV series A Bit of a Do, I was impressed enough to see what other shows the writer had done and found that in addition to several TV series, David Nobbs (surely a pseudonym?) has written eighteen novels. His latest was priced to sell on kindle so I bought it and was hooked right away.

Generally, I shy away from literary fiction, finding that while a good author can get you hooked and sustain a novel, satisfying endings seem to be elusive. By satisfying, I don't mean it has to be
Derek Baldwin
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Life in suburbia, or Islington at any rate, is something David Nobbs does so well.... and yet for the longest time, while reading and enjoying this book, I was asking myself why.... What is the book actually for? The jokes seemed a little forced, the repetitions of certain phrases cliched, the main character a bit of a bastard, but only a bit. But then all the threads are drawn together so skilfully, and movingly, and the last 50 pages or so are so poignant.... Very good.
Vittoria D'alessio
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I shouldn't have liked this book. I should be describing it here as sappy, sugary soft-porn for "men of a certain age" (see my Thursdays in the Park review), yet like it I did! It's well-written, which certainly helps. And I enjoyed the pacing, the honesty of the narrator's journey and our anti-hero's final deliverance.
Morana Blue
Aug 07, 2016 rated it liked it
A story about grief - and about your relatives being a bunch of self-centred bastards. Didn't seem mortifyingly dark or melancholy enough for Reggie Perrin's David Nobbs. Acely humanist though.

And now I'm suddenly thinking about Reggie Perrin - which I used to watch when I was a kid (in the seventies).
Jun 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Hmm, not sure about this one. Middle aged man ponders life, death, infidelity and religion following untimely death of his wife. Some comic aspects to it, various things happen over the course of the week. Easy reading, pleasant enough but not 'wow'.
Cat Martin
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
I listened to the audiobook of this in the car over the course of a week. I think my main problem with the book was that I just didn't like the main character, though perhaps older readers may sympathise with him more.
Backlisted Podcast
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Listen to Jonathan Coe talking about 'It Had To Be You' on the Backlisted podcast here:
Ketan Shah
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Gentle and funny. With some philosophical asides.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Slow and rather tedious and the "twist" was obvious from the start. Not one of his best
Oct 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
I don't give up on many books but I gave up on this one. It's s***e.
Dave Hodgkinson
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Good. Well written, well-drawn characters, nice twist. Echoes of Reggie Perrin, but no worse for that.
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Philip Davies
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Neil Whitehead
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