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: