Sunday, 23 May 2010

One Day

One Day is a brilliant new novel by David Nicholls in which each chapter covers the lives of the two protagonists on 15 July, St. Swithen's Day, for twenty years.

Emma and Dexter wake up one morning at university after a drunken one-night-stand in 1988. Dexter is handsome and cavalier while Emma is clever and to the point. They lie in bed, discussing their hopes and dreams and imagine what their life will be like at 40. It becomes immediately clear that they are both pretty clueless. Reminiscent of When Harry met Sally, they remain close but head down different paths. Dexter becomes a presenter of a late-night TV show and Emma finds herself working in a Mexican restaurant in Kentish Town. When they hit 30, Emma finally comes into her own while Dexter’s life is in shambles. Until they meet again…

One Day is about the dark side of growing up, which is filled with compromises, disillusionment and loneliness but don’t get me wrong, this book is also laugh out loud funny and poignant. Featuring some very memorable scenes and moving characters, it is unpretentious and profound. The dialogue flows so effortlessly and kind of brings the works of Nick Hornby to mind, only better if you ask me. The social and political satire which occasionally pops up is pure Jonathan Coe.

David Nicholls is a great comic writer and has created a wise and compassionate tale that is also unbearably sad at times. This light love story is a very persuasive and endearing account of a close friendship and intricately illustrates how people change when they grow older. The only downside to Nicholls’ structure is that by returning to the same day each year some of the most important events in their life are never recounted.

One Day is a wonderful book that really touched me. It was bold, funny, tender and hits a little too close to home at times.

Sometimes, when things were going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really a fetish for stationary. The true writer, the born writer, will scribble words on scraps of litter, the back of bus tickets, on the wall of a cell. Emma is lost on anything less than 120gsm.

I can honestly say that it’s been a while since I’ve been able to relate to a character like that but my god, Emma was spot on! I'm definitely going to keep track of Nicholls. And like all things good and British, a film adaptation will probably be just around the corner.

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