Customer Reviews of One Day
You'll need to set aside some time. . .
Once you start to read this book, expect to let your responsibilities slide until you finish. This one is very hard to put down, and should make a great movie, too. Dex and Em get together on graduation day, 1987, and spend the next twenty years pursuing lives with their friendship as a touchstone. As all the permutations of their situations develop, I became more engrossed by the highs and lows. All the characters are true-to-life. I really can't say enough good things. This one would be perfect for the beach, except you might forget the beach!
I absolutely loved this book. I became a big fan of Nicholls with his first novel (A Question of Attraction -- originally titled "Starter for Ten" with its U.K. edition.) I was a little letdown by his second -- The Understudy, which was fun, but not quite as good as his first. This book exceeds his first. He takes a great device -- following the lives of one couple on the same day over a period of 20 years -- and does a masterful job of storytelling with it. We go from the couple's idealistic college days -- they meet on the day of their graduation -- all the way into their late 30s, with all the physical and emotional changes that come during that timespan. We see the career missteps along the way, and all the various relationships they have while still remaining friends -- and the woman, Emma, always secretly in love with Dexter Mayhew, who has more than a few wild oats to sow before he realizes the woman he should be with is the one who's always been his best friend. The writing is absolutely marvelous. The dialogue is absolutely terrific -- the couple have a teasing/kneedling way of talking to each other and the reparteee between them remains funny and fresh throughout even though the novel is long -- 435 pages.
To say much more would be to give too much away. But if you like insightful books about relationships that can touch all of your emotions, this is the book for you. I think structurally the way Nicholls manages to take you on an extraordinary trip from the first page to the very last is a tour de force.
I had to buy this from amazon/uk because it was available in Britain a year before it became available in the United States, but I'm so happy I got it. This is definitely a book I will re-read several times -- and I hope Nicholls continues to have a prolific career.
Now, seriously, this book is great fun...
After I had been ploughing through two brick-like books that had 'Literature' (with capital L) writ large all over them, this variation on the evergreen topic of 'Harry and Sally' was a most welcome relief: genuinely funny, liberal doses of acid repartee and shrewd observations, great care given to telling details and lots of fine craftsmanship spent on the staging of embarrassing encounters, disastrous reunions and relationships derailing. (I particularly liked the parlour game gone horribly wrong at the home of one of the leading man's prospective girlfriends.)
And what is more, from the very beginning there is beneath the surface charm a strong undercurrent steering proceedings away from mere lightweight banter into the more troubled waters of a true ,human comedy`. In the last chapters the author even sets about sounding depths for which the reader arguably has not been sufficiently prepared; I still wonder if these late twists add an extra layer of complexity or simply strike a false note and ultimately are Nicholls' misguided bid for being shelved with the serious authors.
The concluding pages are heavily fragrant with bitter-sweetness, again something an author introduces at his own risk; but on the other hand there is no denying that the unexpected narrative device used in these pages conveys an adeqaute impression of things coming full circle and being brought to a close.
And yes, I was moved, so no more niggling and five stars out of five.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written, page-turning, entertaining book which captured a lot of the feel of the last twenty years. It is both a light and deep character study of two individuals and their strengths and weaknesses, foibles and what turned them onto and off each other, also with some well-drawn minor characters and interesting twists and turns, including one or two really moving episodes. It drew neatly, too, on the background that had helped turn them into what they were. There's also a strong satirical element on. for example, student life, youth television, modern food and the difficulties of parenthood which completely hits the mark.
A new David Nicholls book is a reason to get up in the morning! I really loved One Day: the concept, the writing style, the humor and the characters were pitch perfect. Yes, it was a weeper but worth every moment spent with it. Fans of his other books and authors like Nick Hornby and Chris Cleave (also wonderful) will enjoy this.