Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

Title: One Day
Author: David Nicholls
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from Shelf Awareness
First line: ‘I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference,’ she said.

When an ARC copy of One Day showed up in my mailbox, I started to put it on the to-be-reviewed shelf to read at a future date, but this blurb kept staring up at me from the cover: “Big, absorbing, smart, fantastically readable.” – Nick Hornby. I love Nick Hornby – both his non-fiction and his fiction, which doesn’t always happen. And so I succumbed to that blurb and started reading. And kept reading. And it turned out to be a serendipitous thing, because One Day was the perfect book to keep me company and distracted while in the hospital with Natalie.

Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew talk for the first time on the day they graduate from university. There is an unmistakable attraction, but they are headed in different directions: Dexter is off to become a television personality, with all the booze, drugs, and women that career entitles him to; Emma is headed into a string of different jobs, trying to find her true calling. Their friendship/relationship continues, however, and we get a peek into their lives on the same day of the year for twenty consecutive years. Some years, they are together; others years they are far apart – but each is always present in the other’s thoughts.

I loved the format of this book, loved the way it allowed the reader to look in on Dex and Em as they matured, grew, changed, and became grown-ups. Nicholls has a brilliant knack for writing characters, as well as dialogue that develops and reveals those characters. For a few years, Dexter becomes insufferably self-absorbed, and yet never quite becomes unlikeable. There were times I wanted to give Emma a swift kick to get her out of a dead-end job, but her self-doubt was realistic and relatable.

Aside from the format, I appreciated the way Nicholls kept the reader guessing. I really had no idea which direction Dex’s and Em’s relationship was going to take, and the ending came as a complete surprise. I became emotionally involved with the characters so much that when I read, I almost forgot for a few moments that I was in the hospital, worrying about my girl – that is high praise, indeed.

While doing some link-clicking while writing this review, I discovered that this book is already in production for a film adaptation. Here are Em and Dex, respectively:

Anne Hathaway

Jim Sturgess

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19 Responses to Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

  1. Mary
    Twitter: bookfanmb

    This is on my tbr list. Hope to get to it before the movie! Loved your review.

  2. I won a copy of this book and am anxiously awaiting it’s arrival. I can’t wait to read it.

  3. Amy says:

    I’m glad to read that you enjoyed the book so much that it distracted you during a stressful time. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much and I’m still trying to figure out why! (I only finished it yesterday) Oh well, it seems most people are really enjoying One Day.

    I thought your review was great, thank you!

    ~ Amy

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Amy – I’ve had that experience before – where everyone else seemed to love a book and I didn’t really care for it – three specifically come to mind: Atonement by Ian McEwan; Home by Marilynne Robinson; and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

  4. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I absolutely LOVED this book. I was drawn in, and instantly it felt comfortable and easy, and sweet, and heartbreaking. Now as far as the movie, I’m not sold on Hathaway. She hasn’t been half bad in her last few roles, but in her earlier stuff she drives me nuts. But I’ll go see it anyway, because the book is just that good.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – I think Hathaway is more capable than some of her roles demonstrate – I’m willing to give it a try. Sturgess I’ve only seen in 21, so not a lot to go on.

  5. S. Krishna
    Twitter: skrishna

    Ooh, glad you enjoyed this one so much! I really want to read it.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Swapna – It’s fantastic – I think you would really like it!

  6. Kathleen says:

    I can’t wait to read this one. Everything I’ve read has been really positive.

  7. amy s. says:

    This book has so much buzz. Yours is the first and only review I’ve read and it sounds great. The casting looks pretty good for the film too doesn’t it. Adding to my library requests.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Amy – as i was reading it, I kept thinking, “This would make a great film!” Obviously, I’m not the only one. 🙂

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  11. Eve shebang says:

    Ann Hathaway is a very capable actress yet she seems a total miscast. Over the course of 22 years Emma Morley basically has 3 lovers. That just seems totally unrealistic with someone with Hathaway’s looks. And once again we’re going to have to suffer the gauche English accent, trying to discern the small imperfections of speech and mannerisms of a girl born in Brooklyn trying to pass for a English girl. As a spectator I always feel it’s a drain. It’s just like when you watch a documentary about Japan and the music supervisor decides to play something off, say like Chinese.

  12. Eve shebang says:

    Me again. I know who would have been a perfect Emma Morley: Rebecca Hall.
    I’d be surprised if they didn’t offer the part to her. Best of luck to Ms. Hathaway. I hope she pulls it off and doesnt piss off the millions of the book’s fans of which I am.