Review: One Day- David Nicholls
Wow. David Nicholls truly deserves a pat on the back after this one. Deeply moving and poignantly wrote, One Day is the novel everyone cannot stop talking about and the story everyone wishes they had written. Destined to be a classic of our time it has quickly become the highest- selling British novel of 2010; undoubtedly it has taken not just the UK, but the USA by storm as it spends three months on the New York Times bestsellers list.
Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew first meet on July 15th 1988 on the last night of their lives as students. From then on, the novel catches up with them every July 15th charting 20 years of their lives and not-always-steady friendship. Writing in the present day but also backtracking into the past and even ending the novel with the beginning, the reader is given a Polaroid scrapbook of Em and Dex’s lives so it feels you know them personally. An absolutely disastrous structure for a novel if you get it wrong, but here Nicholls works it beautifully. The time structure in the novel is also fantastic; Nicholls faultlessly presents a picture of late 80s and 90s Britain and explores issues central to the time. We chart the lives of Em and Dex as they grow up and make the terrifying, inevitable journey through adulthood.
Emma: intelligent, awkward, witty and from Yorkshire grapples with the disappointments of post-University life and becomes unsure of what she wants out of life now her degree is over. This is a huge part of the novel I personally identified with the most, and Nicholls perfectly hit the nail on the head with various passages that many young people in the world feel right now.
‘What are you going to do with your life?’ in one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever; teachers, her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer. The future rose up ahead of her, a succession of empty days, each more daunting and unknowable than the one before her…go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.’
Dexter however is everything Emma isn’t; charming, flashy, arrogant, lazy and selfish. He quickly becomes successful as a TV presenter but is his own worst enemy. As the years pass, the tables turn and Emma finally finds success in the publication of her first book. In the meantime, Dexter doubts his ability to be a father to daughter Jasmine, while going through divorce and struggling with his drinking habit.
Whether the novel depicts the highs of Emma and Dexter’s relationship or the lows, it is a wonderful read. Funny at times and touching at others, it can have you from laughing aloud to feeling tears in a heartbeat. One Day is an engaging account of close friendship and how it can change or evolve over the years, witnessing weddings, births, deaths, parenthood and the coming of middle-age along the way. A perfect combination of romance, compassion, sadness and wit, it is a must-read novel that becomes, if possible, even more gripping with each turn of the page. Not to mention the twist at the end.
It’s the novel Britain has been raving about and its not a one to miss.
‘You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this.
It would be the gift of confidence.
Either that or a scented candle.’
Do I recommend you to read it? Yes, if you enjoy romance or comedy.
Genre: romantic comedy