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A MODERN CLASSIC!
One Day - David Nicholls
Member Name: dawnymarie
One Day - David Nicholls
Date: 02/07/11, updated on 05/07/11 (98 review reads)
Advantages: A PAGE TURNER! EMOTIVE! HUMOUR! A MODERN CLASSIC!
Disadvantages: NONE FOR ME!
With many thanks to Carol (Rosebud2001) for reviewing this book - her wonderful account of this story prompted me to purchase. I read it over the course of a week and found it incredibly difficult to put down!
Following their Graduation ceremony, on July 15th 1988, Emma Morely and Dexter Mayhew find themselves spending time together in the modest flat that Emma rents in Edinburgh. Dexter is handsome and has enjoyed a privileged upbringing. Emma is quirky though under her large NHS spectacles (that are also a statement) she has natural beauty. Both understand that this meeting cannot lead to any permanent relationship because Dexter plans to be traveling the world - though both of them are aware of an attraction between them. They exchange details and plan to stay in touch and be 'friends' - with Emma composing detailed and enthusiastic letters and Dexter returning postcards with a one line account of his residence. Over the course of a twenty year period the prose describes the developments in this relationship and we see what Dex and Em are doing with their life on the same day each year - ST Swithin's Day. For Dexter there will initially be success and living life to the full - while deep down knowing that he wants something different . Emma will have challenges and initially not see much in the way of success - all the time knowing that she wants something different! The outcome of life experiences and maturing in age is that perceptions and priorities change within these two people. Will this mean that their mutual attraction is acknowledged? Will there be a happy ending? Or have they changed too much to be more than just good friends?
It did not take long for me to relate to the main protagonists in this book. I have to say that Emma was the character that I warmed to most of all. Clearly she has worked hard at University and is a clever girl, she is opinionated and passionate about her views, though the thought of what she will do with the rest of her life concerns her. I liked Emma's honesty and found her to be faithful and genuine. She can be relied upon and is responsible. Dexter is the opposite of Emma - due to his liking for alcohol, drugs and late night parties - he is not a guy who can depended on. But there is something in this character that appeals to Emma and I think that it comes across to the reader. Deep down within Dexter is a nice guy - I hoped that with maturity I may see this side of Dexter develop.
During this time in the book - the early years - Emma struggles with self esteem, identity, purpose in life, confidence and relationships. Her friendship with Dexter is developing and even though he can be thoughtless and hurtful she remains loyal to him. It was so easy to imagine the suffering that she endured during this time in her life and I could empathise and sympathise with her character. I felt like I was getting to know her and of course there were occasions when she niggled me but for the majority of the time she won me over - I really like Em! Now Dexter is another kettle of fish! He is enjoying very much all of his easy breaks in life, his self confidence is sky high, sometimes he came across as a bit of a show off and he is very aware of his good looks. For me beauty comes from within and I really wished that Dex would reveal some of his inner qualities rather than being materialistic and shallow. Was this to come later - I rather hoped so!
Due to the flowing conversational prose I felt like I was becoming friends with Dex and Em, I relished my 'me' time and allowed myself to be immersed in the developments. I enjoyed being introduced to supporting characters - some from University days who remained in contact, others who were to be included within and around work environments. Parents and siblings, fleeting acquaintances. I found all of the characters believable and their traits were developed appropriately for their part in the composition. I never felt bogged down with too much to remember though felt I had a good idea of how a person ticked.
As the story progressed from the 80's to the 90's I was mindful of the clever and thorough descriptive prose - places, television programs, culture, youth orientation of the media, materialistic values. I do remember the feel of these decades and the writing took me right back to those times - all of my senses where activated. I resonated with this aspect of the story completely - it was a nice trip down memory lane!
Inevitably Em and Dex begin to change as they age and gain experience in life - their perspectives and priorities begin to challenge them. I recognised this situation from my own journey through life, I am a completely different person now compared to how I was in my younger days - this really was thought provoking and made me realise just how much I have changed. And also you get a sense of how quickly time elapses by following this passage through the years and seeing the subtle alterations arising.
The special friendship between the two central figures is truly tested throughout the course of the years - when the going gets tough you often seek out a particular person, if you are elated you gravitate to this person - this facet of the prose rang true for me. A sincere and special friendship is unconditional you don't fall out of love with someone on a whim, that feeling will remain there - somewhere deep and embedded within you. With this theme in mind this story - a special friendship between two characters with different traits - made me laugh out loud but also evoked a variety of emotions - at times tearful!
I relished every chapter of this book in its own right - sometimes I am eagerly anticipating the next part of a book. I found the chapters to be an appropriate length and every one held me captivated from beginning to end. I thought the storyline was believable and incredibly well researched, the prose flowed beautifully and developed a nice pace which led up to a surprising ending for me. Initially I was stopped in my tracks with disbelief and found it difficult to take in - indeed I had to re read the section just in case I had misunderstood! The ending was satisfactory but part of me wished with all my heart that it could be different! Once again I found this to be thought provoking. The structure of the ending prose is concise and I found that this gave the material a powerful and emotional strength as it really did hit home how it may feel to experience the situation. Although I may have preferred the story to have a different ending I did find the conclusion to this prose satisfactory - I was not left with any doubts or questions unanswered.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH DEX & EM
From the moment I started reading this book I was comfortable and greedily wanting more. I found it very easy to relate to and engage with the two main protagonists - Dexter and Emma. I liked the structure of the composition - due to the chapters being 'one day' (the same day each year) - and found the chapters to be an enjoyable length. I liked the themes that permeated the prose sensitively - which include friendship, loyalty, ageism, betrayal, conflict and romance. Even though romance is evident I found it to be subtle initiating a 'will they or won't they' question that was maintained throughout the book. For the majority of the time I hoped that Dex and Em would 'get together' and there were some intense occasions between them - sometimes 'stolen moments' that I thought were breathtakingly beautiful and I became optimistic for their future together. I have to say though that there were times when I was saddened by Dexters conduct around Emma and found myself hoping that they remained just good friends. I took great pleasure in re visiting the 80's and 90's and the various locations which include Edinburgh, London and Paris. The decades are times that I have experienced and I was reminded of those periods splendidly by the adept descriptive writing. I have never visited the areas that I mentioned previously but gained an excellent perception of the cities and locale - all of my senses where aroused due to the concise and detailed portrayal. I got to know these two people and strangely enough they began to feel like old friends, I became attached to them and reading the chapters was like 'catching up'. I found the outcome of the book rather surprising - I was not expecting it and I couldn't quite believe what I was reading - I am still digesting it at present! The thing I take away from this prose most of all is to live each and every day as fully as I can and value the wonderful friendships that I have in my life.
BITS & BOBS
PRICE £3.98 on Amazon at the time of reviewing
AVAILABILITY Amazon, Waterstones, eBay and many more stores and online sellers.
AUTHOR David Nicholls
FUTURE FILM RELEASE 'One Day coming soon (see preview video on Amazon on the book page - looks good!)
I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It is easy to read and flows beautifully. I did not guess how it would end - which I like in a book. I may have preferred an alternative outcome but was very satisfied by the conclusion. You will see what I mean when you read it yourself. Would I read this again in the future - absolutely yes.
Thank you for reading this review - I hope that you enjoyed it and found it helpful. This review will also be published on CIAO under my username.
Summary: DEX AND EM - ARE THEY YOUR NEW FRIENDS TOO?