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"Funny, moving, and a guaranteed page-turner. Brilliant!"
-Mike Gayle, author of Mr. Commitment
"It's not me-it's you."
After ten years, Jane's had enough of Edward Middleton. "You've let yourself go," she tells him. "So I'm letting you go too."
Determined to get her back, Edward realizes he must learn how to make women want him again. But right now, he's the kind of man who puts the "ex" in "sexy." One thing is certain: if he's going to be Jane's Mr. Right, he needs to turn himself around. From Atkins to Waxing, Edward begins working his way through the makeover alphabet.
But is a change in appearance what Jane really wants? Can cuddly Teddy really become sexy Eddie? Or is there more to the dating game than meets the eye?
"[The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook] gives a real insight into the different ways men and women think."
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Matt Dunn has written about life, love, and relationships for the Times, Guardian, The Sun, and a number of magazines, including Company, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, and Scarlet. But he prefers writing novels for a living.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Sunday 16th January
'Edward. Let me get this straight. You've called me right in the middle of Antiques Roadshow just to tell me your girlfriend's gone to bed?'
'Tibet, Dan. Jane's gone to Tibet. She's left me.'
It's the first time I've said those words out loud, and my voice cracks a little down the phone line. My girlfriend of ten years, the woman who I've been sharing my bed, my flat, my life with, has gone. Vanished. Departed. Cleared out. And, by the looks of things, cleared me out as well.
'What do you mean, "she's left you"?'
'Dan, there's no clearer way of saying it. Jane's. Left. Me.'
I can almost hear the cogs turning in Dan's head as what I've just said sinks in. 'Stay where you are,' he says. 'I'll be right over. And don't do anything stupid.'
Don't do anything stupid? I put the receiver down, wondering what Dan's idea of doing something stupid would actually be. Wearing socks with sandals, possibly.
I stare disbelievingly around my flat, which appears to be almost as empty as I'm feeling inside. The place looks like it's been ransacked: wardrobe doors still ajar; drawers left open as if they've been rifled through in a hurry; and the CD rack empty except for a couple of dodgy rock compilations and my collection of digitally re-mastered Queen albums.
While I wait for Dan to arrive, I walk from room to room, compiling a mental check list of what Jane's taken. The chairs and dining table set she bought from IKEA: gone. The red imitation leather sofa her mother gave us which made obscene noises whenever you sat down too quickly: missing. The breadmaker that she won in a competition and then used just the once: well, I won't miss that, I suppose. Even the Picasso poster she bought as a souvenir from that exhibition we saw five years ago in Barcelona has been neatly removed, leaving just the faintest outline on the kitchen wall where it used to hang. At least she's left me the bed, although most of the rest of the furniture seems to be missing. All her things, now I come to think of it.
I'm amazed at how clinical Jane's been; how effectively she's managed to excise herself from this flat, and my life, without leaving so much as a trace of the ten years we've been together. The only hint of anyone else ever having lived here is the photograph I find on the floor in front of the bookshelf of the two of us, taken at college, when we first met. Jane and I always used to smile when we looked at it, remembering the time it was taken, and just how happy and carefree we were back then. She'd even bought a special frame, and given it pride of place above the fireplace. But as I prop it up on the mantelpiece I realize she's taken the frame but left the picture, and I'm not smiling any more.
I retrieve Jane's note from where I've screwed it up and thrown it into the fireplace, smooth it out, and read it through one more time, even though I can already remember it word for word.
By the time you get this letter, I'll be on a plane to Tibet. I'm going away for a while because I need to sort some things out, and while I'm gone, I suggest you do the same.
Let's face it, Teddy, you've let yourself go, so I'm letting you go too.
I'd tell you not to think about following me, but I know that a romantic gesture like that would never even occur to you. And that's part of our problem.
As I'm sure you've noticed, I've taken my things, although I've left you the bathroom scales-you might want to use them for something other than stacking your old newspapers on.
I'll be back on April 16th, so perhaps we'll talk again then. Meanwhile I suggest you use this opportunity to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.
P.S. I realize at this point I'm supposed to say something like 'it's not you, it's me', but in actual fact, it is you.
As I finish reading, my hands are shaking. I fold the note carefully and place it in my pocket, then light a cigarette and inhale deeply, longing for the calming buzz of the nicotine, hoping it will take the edge off the pain I'm feeling.
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