books

"One Day" by David Nicholls

One Day (Vintage Contemporaries Original)There is a point in the future where even the worst disaster starts to settle into an anecdotes, and he can see the potential for a story here.

One Dayloved it, loved it, loved it. The writing is at turns beautiful and at turns hilarious. I couldn’t put it down, but when I was finished, I felt such a sense of loss: I wasn’t at all ready for it to end.

The novel opens in Edinburgh in 1988, July 15, St. Swithin’s Day, the day after graduation, with Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, drunk, in bed, awkward after meeting the day before at a graduation party. The novel returns to the pair on each July 15 through 2007. While this could easily have been a gimmick – and as you know, I hate gimmicks – the book flows naturally and the temporal jump feels simply like a unique, interesting, and unobtrusive narrative structure. It doesn’t at all feel as though Nicholls is trying to shoehorn important events into this one day; instead, it is very natural, and, at times the action is understated or ordinary.

Although the characters in the novel are older than I, they are close enough in age that I felt an affinity with them, especially Emma, who has several mis-starts and at one point escapes to Paris because “London has become one big crèche.” It’s so painful to see the pain of the characters – I felt like I was suffering with them as they faced challenges from work, family, relationships. When they were happy and successful, I was happy for them.

I don’t want to say to much about the trajectory of the plot: I want you to experience that for yourself. I believe you will be glad if you do.

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