Laura's Reviews > One Day

One Day by David Nicholls
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's review
Sep 24, 2011

it was amazing

Any novel inspired by a quotation by Thomas Hardy is bound to appeal to me, but I must confess I picked this one up because it was on offer in Waterstone´s and I thought it seemed like a relaxing read. I only learnt about Thomas Hardy later!
I don´t regret the impulse buy, I really enjoyed this book. It is based on two intelligent premises. Firstly, structurally each chapter covers the same day, 15th July, each year. Using this device David Nicholls retells the friendship between Emma and Dexter, who met as they were about to leave university in Edimburgh. They grow closer, particularly thanks to Emma´s efforts, it may seem. Emma has, unreservedly, a crush on Dexter, a posh "ladies guy". As the years pass, we see their lives move on: new jobs, new partners, new flats... Still, Emma seems to be letting her love life wilter in the vague hope that something will finally happen between Dexter and her. I am sure I am not the only reader who has felt that Dexter takes Emma for granted, and that she is making a terrible mistake "choosing" this man, as I am not sure as a friend he contributes a lot to her life or self-esteem. Still, you can´t "choose" who you fall in love with, and Emma´s enterprise to love Ian seemed doomed to me too. Of course, the problem is that Dexter is not very likable: he is selfish and superficial, and he is the one who benefits the most from the relationship, as Emma is generally a kind and loyal friend.
The second premise is closely knitted to the end, it is a gift from Thomas Hardy and I wouldn´t want to spoil things for anyone.
The book is very funny. Emma and Dexter have quite sarcastic conversations and there are very many humorous comments. The good "funny" British novel is always a thing of beauty. I particularly liked Emma´s affair with a headmaster: anybody who has worked in a school knows that that turn of events is a lot more plausible than it may seem to outsiders.
Towards the end of the book, we learnt what happened the day Emma and Dexter met and why they went their separate ways. A Shakesperean moment involving parents, a misunderstanding and an impending journey. It brought back an always vivid memory of a boy suddenly glad to see me in the surroundings of the railway station: my parents had just picked me up, he was on his way back to uni. I always knew it was never meant to be, but I still remember how glad he was to see me that afternoon, and what a hindrance my parents became all of a sudden! Now I am a parent, but my feelings are still with the young girl.
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Quotes Laura Liked

David Nicholls
“You feel a little bit lost right now about what to do with your life, a bit rudderless and oarless and aimless but that’s okay… That’s alright because we’re all meant to be like that at twenty-four.”
David Nicholls, One Day

David Nicholls
“She drinks pints of coffee and writes little observations and ideas for stories with her best fountain pen on the linen-white pages of expensive notebooks. Sometimes, when it's going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationery.”
David Nicholls, One Day

David Nicholls
“As the possibility of a relationship had faded, Emma had endeavored to harden herself to Dexter's indifference and these days a remark like this caused no more pain than, say, a tennis ball thrown sharply at the back of her head.”
David Nicholls, One Day

David Nicholls
“It would be inappropiate, undignified, at 38, to conduct friendships or love affairs with the ardour or intensity of a 22 year old. Falling in love like that? Writing poetry? Crying at pop songs? Dragging people into photobooths? Taking a whole day to make a compilation tape? Asking people if they wanted to share your bed, just for company? If you quoted Bob Dylan or TS Eliot or, god forbid, Brecht at someone these days they would smile politely and step quietly backwards, and who would blame them? Ridiculous, at 38, to expect a song or book or film to change your life.”
David Nicholls, One Day

David Nicholls
“The problem with all these fiercely individualistic girls was that they were all exactly the same.”
David Nicholls, One Day

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