Title: One Day
Author: David Nicholls
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Contemporary Romance
First Publication: 2009
Major Characters: Emma Morley, Dexter Mayhew
Setting Place: United Kingdom
Narrator: Third-person omniscient narrative
Book Summary: One Day by David Nicholls
Meeting in college, Dexter and Emma have a one-night stand in Edinburgh and spend the day after together. The evening has lasting implications for both of them, as each falls for the other, but neither one, for various reasons, is poised to commit to the other.
For the next twenty years, their paths cross time and time again, between bad relationships, failed start-ups, heartache, loss, and joy.
Emma and Dexter each have their ups and downs. Emma struggles with her self-confidence and having to dream a little smaller while Dexter faces internal demons in drugs and alcohol. Dexter even gets married and has a daughter, but the marriage is loveless.
Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls
One Day by David Nicholls begins on the 15th July 1988, the official day of collage graduates Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew meeting for the first time. In their drunkenness, we find them in bed together, discussing what they want to achieve in life and what the future holds. They are a typical odd couple, coming from different backgrounds and having different views on life.
Emma is a beautiful young lady hidden behind enormous dorky spectacles who wants to make a ‘sort of’ difference to the world, talkative nature with witty one-liners but lacking in confidence. Where as Dexter is completely full of himself, materialistic, rich and likes to party hard; and would be more than happy to be remembered as a cool guy.
“He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph.”
But when they are together they complement one another and their relationship harmonious; they’re love for each other is nothing like they’ve ever experienced, or ever would. Even though they go their separate ways, they didn’t anticipate that on this day would be the beginning of deep friendship and love affair that will last a lifetime.
The structure of One Day by David Nicholls was a creative way to get to know the couple. I didn’t initially warm to the structure at the beginning; I would lose momentum at times. But it was a matter of getting to know their personalities and the people around them to make it free flowing.
“If you have to keep a secret it’s because you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
Spanning over 20 years, the author would revisit them one day a year on the 15th July. They’re not necessarily together in the same place or country, but when they were, they’d meet up on regular basis, but either way were heavily on each other thoughts – thinking about one other would give them a sense of calmness. We see them go through the highs and lows of life, from one worthless job to another, failed relationship, breakdowns and addictions, children and family, and how these experiences changed them and their outlook in life as they matured.
“And of course there is always joy in witnessing the joy of others.”
The progress of the book One Day by David Nicholls and the couple’s relationship was by far the most enchanting love story I have read in a long time. Took hold of me from very first words. David Nichols has a magnificent awareness into different relationships. He doesn’t need fancy dialogue to make it more real or impressive; the beauty lies it’s the simple gestures and meaningful language that are familiar or that we may use to express to our love ones, that really pierces the heart.
“You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”
The characters in One Day by David Nicholls are well developed and genuine. They’re harmless people who are just trying to find their footing in life but oh so terribly flawed. I cringed a lot with Dexter, frustrated at some of the things he said and done – tremendously shallow. Emma would sometimes wallow in self-pity, and self doubt and at times I would’ve love to have booted her up the backside to get her out of this mood.