“Love, Unscripted: a Novel,” Ballantine Books, by Owen Nicholls
As the call for a resurgence of the romantic comedy continues to radiate through both the literary and film universes, author Owen Nicholls offers a solution in “Love, Unscripted.” Set in London 2008, Nicholls uses an interesting mix of ingredients to draw the reader in. He manages to combine President Barack Obama’s election with nostalgic movie references and song lyrics, and the result funny and bittersweet.
Working as a projectionist in a movie theater, Nick adopts the habit of comparing his relationships with characters on the big screen. On the eve of Obama’s election, Nick meets Ellie at a watching party. Summoning the courage of every romantic lead he has ever watched, Nick decides to ditch the hedge of protection he traditionally wears when dating someone new. He’s brutally honest, miraculously charming and head-over-heels for the photographer who stole his heart in a moment. As luck would have it, Ellie feels the same way.
The pair are inseparable at the beginning, but there are bumps in the road. When Ellie chooses to leave after four years together, Nick is devastated. How could she suddenly not love him? Where did it all go wrong?
Nick constantly flashes back to that magical night in 2008 when everything was perfect. As if critiquing a film showcasing his life, Nick is determined to sift through the smallest details to figure out when things fell apart in order to get Ellie back.
Nicholls hits all of the emotional buttons in his debut novel. There’s physical attraction, flirtatious sparring, deep romance, devastating pain, brutal heartbreak and unforgettable regret. “Love, Unscripted” is a story of tender compassion rolled up into an understated comedy. But more important, it’s a story that salutes the idea that love at first sight is not impossible.