One Day by David Nicholls

oneday15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their seperate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that?

And every year that follows?

First published: 2009

Man, this book… There was a lot of anticipation involved for me before I finally got to read One Day. It has been high on my wish list for over a year, I think, and after I posted my book haul featuring this novel, several of you told me it’s both wonderful and a tear jerker. So many expectations!

If I’m completely honest I have to admit that I was expecting a romantic love story with some complications along the way and a sad ending (hence the tear jerking). I had very high expectations, but I was “just” expecting a good old love story.

It was so much better than that.

The beginning completely took me and my expectations by surprise and it only got better and better after that. As a reader, you live this 20 year spanning story through the eyes of both Emma and Dexter, and at the end you really have the feeling as if you actually know these characters and as if they’re your friends.

Emma and Dexter are some of the most well-developed, round characters I have ever encountered in a novel and their personality and story just seem so real. They experience real problems such as not being able to find a decent job after university, or being in a relationship that is going nowhere but you’re afraid to end because you don’t want to be alone. I especially found Emma’s story to be very close to life, but Dexter (the “rich kid”) also experiences some very real and heartbreaking things over the years.

The concept of getting to follow two people for twenty years is a really interesting one. It is especially fascinating that you only get to see one day of that year, and that each chapter you have to slowly figure out what has happened in the previous year; what’s still the same, what’s completely changed. It makes for a wonderful reading experience.

Not only were the story and the set-up of the story very much to my liking, the writing style is equally great. One Day is a page turner because the style of writing is very laid back and easy to follow but in the mean time also full of witty and intelligent remarks.

She wondered where the fallacy had come from, that there was something irresistible about funny men; Cathy doesn’t long for Heathcliff because he’s a really great laugh[.]

Of course, any reference to Wuthering Heights is a good one in my book. But Emma, as a struggling writer, also makes a few striking comments about the writing process:

She had read all of Agatha Christie at eleven years old, and later lots of Chandler and James M. Cain too. There seemed no reason why she shouldn’t try writing something in between, but she was discovering once again that reading and writing were not the same — you couldn’t just soak it up then squeeze it out again.

I deeply loved this story and it’s safe to say that One Day has earned a place in the top 10 of my favourite books, perhaps even the top 5. It didn’t live up to my expectations — it exceeded them massively! I’m not likely to forget this storyany time soon, and I’m pretty sure this is one of those books that I can reread and reread and will never tire of.

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Hi! I'm Anne and I love reading, baking and writing about both of those things. Welcome!

12 thoughts on “One Day by David Nicholls

  1. Until now, when I pass this book by on the shelves of a bookstore, I have to pass my fingertips across the cover, if only for a moment. The concept was amazingly thought out and even through its “slower” periods, it was still an amazing read. Loved your review!

  2. This book is on my reading list for the summer! I love the idea that you can follow these characters over 20 years or so. I love books where you can really form a relationship with character. Can’t wait to read it after your review now! 🙂

  3. I really like this book and I love that it’s much more than it seems to be. I read it ages ago before the film and all the hype so I had no idea what happened in the end or that it was even sad so it was such a shock, especially in the way that it’s written. I had to read the sentence several times to believe it!

    1. Yes, the pleasant surprise of the “deepness” of the book was so great! I haven’t seen the film, and didn’t know there would be a sad ending when I bought the book. And even though I did know something sad was coming while reading (I didn’t know exactly what), I was completely shocked when it happened as well! I think I had the same reaction as you, haha.

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