Newest Review: ... 15th July. The premise sounds good enough, right? Emma is a smart, outspoken girl who can appear a little snobbish but definitely means... more
One Day - Simply wonderful
One Day - David Nicholls
Member Name: PaigeTurner
One Day - David Nicholls
Advantages: Excellent characterisation and inventive method of storytelling
I was actually quite disappointed One Day took off in popularity because I thought, foolishly, this book was my little secret.
And it's no surprise this book has been made into a film because David Nicholls' style of writing is naturally very visual - that's what you get for being the script writer for Cold Feet, which indeed he was for years.
It was actually by pure fluke I ever picked up a copy of One Day. It fell under the three for two offer at Waterstones. I had already selected two books and was scrabbling around trying to find a third.
The reason I chose One Day over any others was the fact it visits the characters once a year on 15th July, which just happens to be my birthday. This is not my usual method of selecting my reading material but regardless, the gamble paid off. I loved every moment of this book.
I found that quite unusually for more lightweight fiction, the characters really came to life for me and I missed them once the book came to an end.
One Day as I have previously mentioned, visits its characters on the same day of the year, every year - 15th July - over a period of 20 years.
The two main characters in question are Emma and Dexter who we first meet on 15th July 1988 on the night of their graduation. A little too much has been drunk, the excitement of their graduation day has got to them and they end up spending the night together.
From the off, their personalities are completely at odds with each other and as it is the end of university for ever, there seems little reason they will ever see each other again.
But as we find out there is something continually pulling them back together again.
What I think ensures this book's mass appeal is it revolves around the universally popular 'will they, won't they' storyline. As a reader we are forced to watch from the sidelines as their paths take them in opposite directions, they meet other people, they argue, they decide they should just be friends, when all the time we are willing them to realise they should be together.
Who doesn't enjoy such a love story?
The book has you gripped because you are just dying to know how their futures will pan out, but at the same time I found myself intentionally slowing the pace I read this book down to prolong the enjoyment.
I particularly enjoyed the way Nicholls slowly reveals more and more about the characters as the years go by and so as they get to know each other more, we too as readers develop a greater understanding of who they are.
The method of catching up with the characters on 15th July each year proves an effective way of storytelling. We do not miss out on any of the action throughout the rest of the year through the use of flashbacks and the narration is mixed up from chapter to chapter to follow the story through Dexter's eyes and then through Emma's.
Another reason for One Day's popularity is the characters are easy to relate to. Emma is by her own admission decidedly average in looks and ability and so she is by no means unreachable to the reader. Dexter may be buoyed on by his own success but he too has his own demons to overcome.
Dexter as a result feels he is far above Emma in looks and abilities but it is actually Emma who emerges as the stronger and more able human being who becomes a crutch to Dexter.
There are aspects of Dexter and Emma readers will be able to relate to in the same way they will be able to relate to some of their experiences and struggles.
Nicholls accurately captures the feel of each year as the story moves on through the decades, from the 80s fashion through to the 90s idealism and the noughties politics. I am of a different age to Emma and Dexter but having been born in the 80s, I too made a real progression of growth and development through these decades.
The book takes you on a real roller-coaster of emotions, culminating in an ending which had me weeping out loud. It really felt like tragedy had struck people I knew.
I have pledged never to watch the film because I'm sure it will be no means match up to my own One Day 'world' and my personification of Emma and Dexter who are literary figures I now hold dear.
Summary: A novel which you simultaneously want to devour in chunks and savour to make it last.