Cover image for Dinner for two
Dinner for two
Gayle, Mike.
Personal Author:
First Downtown Press trade paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Downtown Press, 2004.

Physical Description:
338 pages ; 21 cm
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Dave Harding's got a wonderful wife, a beautiful home, and a job he could do in his sleep...
So no one is more surprised than Dave when he hears his own biological clock start ticking. Loudly. Unfortunately, his better half, Izzy, has no nine-month plan for fat ankles or a credit line at Baby Gap. With even worse timing, the music magazine Dave writes for folds. Desperate for work, he's forced to become an advice columnist for a teen magazine.
But he's about to get a serious wake-up call.
Wading through letter after letter of adolescent angst is the last thing Dave wants to do, especially since he could use some help dealing with his own. But one letter is about to make all his little problems disappear -- and replace them with one big one.
The letter is from a teenage girl named Nicola. But she doesn't need advice about boys, or friends, or the latest fads. She's looking for her father, whom she's never met. She's looking for a man to call Dad.
She's looking for Dave.

Author Notes

Mike Gayle is a freelance journalist and a former advice columnist who has written for Ms., The Sunday Times Style Magazine, Seventeen, The Express, and other U.K. publications. His first novel, My Legendary Girlfriend, sold 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom. He lives in London, England.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Thirty-two-year-old Dave Harding has an enviable life--career as a music journalist; a beautiful wife, Izzy; and a nice flat in London. But he feels the pain of Izzy's miscarriage so deeply that he realizes how much he wants to be a father. As luck would have it, it turns out he already is, to a 13-year-old girl, Nicola, with whose mother he had a one-night stand just before college. After he learns of Nicola's existence, they begin seeing each other on the sly, telling neither Izzy nor Nicola's mother. This ploy buys them time to get to know one another before dealing with the inevitable complications. But deal they must, eventually. Gayle, to his credit, does not tidy things up too neatly, letting Izzy and Dave's relationship ride the fence. But, all in all, this is meant to be a feel-good book in the Nick Hornby vein, complete with numerous references to rock music. One problem: Hugh Grant may be too old to play the title role. --Beth Leistensnider Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With chick lit flourishing, the hopeful but floundering subgenre of lad lit has emerged, a prime example being Gayle's novel about a 32-year-old music journalist whose marriage is threatened by the appearance of a daughter he never knew he had. After losing his job at a music magazine, Dave is persuaded to take a stab at writing an advice column in the trendy Teen Scene and is surprised to find that not only is he being solicited by brokenhearted girls and anxious female friends for relationship advice, he's sought out by Nicola, a beautiful 13-year-old girl who claims to be his daughter. Keeping secret his deepest desire, to father a child, because his wife Izzy, editor at a glamorous women's magazine, has admitted she is not quite ready for motherhood, Dave loves the idea that he could be Nicola's father and surreptitiously commences a relationship that opens his heart to the love of this stranger-daughter. But when Izzy finally learns about Nicola, Dave realizes that he may have to choose between the love of his life and the daughter of his dreams. Gayle's sensitive and poignant male-perspective novel may not be the guy's equivalent of Kinsella or Fielding's hilarious escapades, but it will tug at the heartstrings and give female readers a peek into the male psyche. Agent, Kathleen Anderson. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Prologue Apparently (at least, so she told me) it all happened because her best friend Keisha had to stay behind after school for hockey practice. Usually she hated going home on her own because it was lonely. But that day she didn't even notice Keisha wasn't there because of Brendan Casey. Her obsession with him had developed to the point where she'd begun to semi-stalk him, watching him at lunchtime in the canteen, or positioning herself next to the classroom windows during English with Mr Kelly on Tuesday afternoons when Brendan's year had games because it was possible -- if she squinted really hard -- to just about make out his silhouette on the football pitch. That day she'd determined that she was going to speak to him for the first time. Having thought about it a great deal she decided that the best way to do this was to be in his general proximity, smile at him a great deal and hope beyond hope that a conversation would spontaneously evolve out of nothing like some sort of conversational "Big Bang" theory. The moment the end-of-school bell rang she'd raced out to the school's main entrance and waited. She followed Brendan and his friends to the gates without being detected -- which was more difficult than she'd anticipated. Brendan and his friends didn't walk anywhere fast, and each time they stopped she had to bend down and fiddle with her laces, or rummage in her bag, or sometimes she simply stood still and gazed into the mid-distance as if she were looking for inspiration. Eventually, her persistence paid off: the boys made it out of the gates and up the path to the bus stop. She positioned herself directly behind Brendan, a place that up until this moment she could only have ever imagined in her wildest dreams. Brendan, however, didn't pay her the slightest bit of attention no matter how much she smiled in his direction. As the number 23A arrived and the double-decker opened its doors, the orderly queue disintegrated into a free-for-all and she was pushed to the back. By the time she got on Brendan and his friends had disappeared upstairs. She followed them but by the time she got there the top deck was full. She sighed, and made her way back downstairs. Ten minutes later when the bus reached her stop she was so angry as she got off that she wanted to scream. She didn't, of course. As she stormed down the road she decided she wasn't even going to look back for a last glance at Brendan. Her resolve however melted as she imagined his face pressed up against the window, his eyes searching for her. She turned, but couldn't see him -- and she hated herself for seeing hope where there was none. She hated herself for being so obviously devoid of self-respect. It started to rain and she decided she was going to change -- that she was going to take control of her life -- and the first thing that she was going to do was change her mood by treating herself to something nice. She checked her Hello Kitty purse to see how much she had left -- (c)2.70. Unsure exactly how she was going to treat herself, she wandered into the newsagent at the top of her road and found herself drawn towards the magazine racks. This was what she wanted. She wanted a magazine that understood her feelings. A magazine that understood her better than she understood herself. A magazine that could simply make her feel better about being her. She scanned the titles aimed at her age group: Smash Hits, Mizz, 19, TV Hits, Top of the Pops, Teen Scene, J17, Bliss, Sugar and Looks and she immediately felt better. It was as if they were friends all desperately vying for her attention. She knew she had to choose carefully. She couldn't afford to be disappointed. All of the covers looked the same: beautiful young girls or pop stars with flawless skin and perfectly proportioned features smiling serenely. As for the content, she could barely tell them apart: fashion, makeup, pop interviews, features about boys, features about friends. After a few moments she made her choice. Teen Scene: "the magazine for girls with go." It was 10p cheaper than the others; she liked the purple eye-shadow the cover girl was wearing and hoped that they might say which brand it was inside; it had cover-mounted stick-on tattoos which although she considered a little bit babyish she thought might be a laugh; and it had the best advice column, "Ask Adam." Her friends laughed at the girls who wrote in to advice columns, but she knew that when it came to boys, she was as clueless as the girls in the letters. She loved problem pages: they made her feel she wasn't alone in the world. That she wasn't weird. That all the thoughts and fears that roamed around inside her head could be solved by "Dear Pam," "Ask Adam," "Getting Personal with Dr Mallory," "Boy Talk with Stephen," and "Crisis Confidential with Dear Anne." The list was endless. But "Ask Adam" was the best. She picked up the magazine and went to pay for it. The man behind the counter scanned the barcode, the till beeped, she gave him the exact money and left. Chaos theory states that something as simple as a butterfly flapping its wings millions of years ago could have changed world events. Well, if that's so then for me, Dave Harding, a happily married music journalist, that was the moment at which a butterfly soared into the air and chaos theory became chaos practice. Copyright (c) 2002 by Mike Gayle Excerpted from Dinner for Two by Mike Gayle All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.