Tatiana's Reviews > One Day

One Day by David Nicholls
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's review
Aug 14, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: abandoned, chick-lit
Recommended for: fans of depressing chick lit
Read from August 28 to 30, 2010

Frankly, after reading a spoiler about the ending, I simply have no will to continue on, there is just no pay-off after enduring this depressing tale sprinkled with occasional one-liners. Granted, I am never opposed to taking a good dose of drama, but melodrama I detest.

This story is about a man and a woman who one day come together as lovers, then break up, but stay connected. Their relationship is followed through the next 20 years by presenting just one day - July 15th - out of their lives.

This is indeed a great premise (and technique), but I wish they were used on different characters and situations. Both Dexter and Emma are not likable enough for me to care to see how their relationship unfolds. I dislike watching Dexter waste his life on partying and hooking up and Emma - on pining over him for years. There is nothing remotely romantic, deep, or compelling about it IMO.

I agree with one of the reviewers here who said that the author didn't quite know his target audience. One Day is neither a literary fiction (which can spin the star-crossed lovers theme in a meaningful way - see Atonement), nor a light-hearted chick lit (some reviewers mistakenly compare this novel to the movie "When Harry Met Sally"). It is somewhere in the middle, which is, IMO, a decently written relationship melodrama, perfect examples of which are The Time Traveler's Wife and tear-jerkers by Nicholas Sparks, Jennifer Weiner,Jodi Picoult and the likes. But alas, this is not my favored genre.
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Reading Progress

08/29/2010 page 4
08/29/2010 page 4
31.0% "Somehow I expected this book to be much less depressing..." 2 comments
02/25/2016 marked as: abandoned

Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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Emily Well said.

Overbylass Hi-is it that this is an English author and many of the themes ,locations , references have not the same feel for American readers .I found the Time Travellers Wife a terrible read , but know many readers in America loved it ?

Ruthiella Overbylass wrote: "Hi-is it that this is an English author and many of the themes ,locations , references have not the same feel for American readers .I found the Time Travellers Wife a terrible read , but know many ..."

Hi Overbylass,
I am American and I much preferred "One Day" to "The Time Traveler's Wife". I agree that were I British, I would have gotten more out of the "time capsule" aspect of "One Day". But I did not connect to Clare and Henry and their big romance at all. However, I liked Emma and Dexter despite their flaws and I could relate especially to Emma.

message 4: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Overbylass, I was thinking of the American vs British aspect as well. I think your absolutely right.

Annie I'm American, but live in London and think that had I not ever lived here, it would have been a bit more difficult to appreciate many of the references made to the places they visited/lived--which do add to the story. If the story had been based in New York, the equivalent would have been Emma starting out living in Queens and finally making it to the Upper West Side by the end of the novel--showing her growth and progression throughout.

That aside, I completely disagree with Tatiana's comments. By not reading through to the end, you missed out on some key moments where the characters made some valuable realizations about themselves and also the opportunity for your own self reflection when it becomes apparent what One Day is all about. You spoiled the book by reading the spoiler!

I think we often get caught up trying to find a book that shows a massive change in the characters based on a single event. In One Day, we really get to see their subtle, beautiful yet imperfect progression over a long period of time. I have to say that at the end of the book I mourned what felt like the loss of two friends whom I had come to know over the course of the book. I must admit that at times I was annoyed and wanted them to learn the lessons faster, but I think that's the point... we don't learn lessons that quickly in life anyway. We often have to repeat mistakes and make the wrong choice a dozen times over before getting it right. And in the end we find that the whole point was the journey anyway. I connected with this book in a way I didn't anticipate. It was worth the journey for me.

message 6: by Tatiana (last edited Nov 12, 2010 05:27AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Tatiana Maybe I missed out on something, Annie, or maybe not. I simply wasn't enjoying it from the get-go. For this sort of story it is important for me to have some compassion for characters and I felt very much weary of and mildly disgusted by them. So why should I suffer more?

Thanks for sharing your perspective though.

Luise The problem may be that the audience who really appreciates this were in their 20's in the 80's - like the characters in the book (and not you guys, I take it?). It captures a certain segment of university educated young people (in Europe, at least?) at that time - I can certainly relate to them, and know people who have had long & messy relationships based on foggy pseudo-intellectual notions of what it means to be "free".

Diablomom3740 I agree Tatiana

Janet I am about half way through and I will finish. They are almost exactly my age so I am enjoying some of the 80's references. An alcoholic is pretty unlikeable in any society. There may be some truth to the British appreciate this more angle, although I have read many British novels, old and new, which I loved. My problem is that Dexter is pathetic. He wasted his last precious time with his mother because of his addiction. So far, I don’t understand why Emma likes him. Good looks are no excuse for getting away with all that he does and Emma seems like the kind of woman whose school girl attraction (though not necessarily the friendship) would fade as she saw that this beautiful guy was not a beautiful person. I pity him at this point and like Emma alright but think she is hanging on to poor Ian even though she does not really like him so she does not have to be alone. Hopefully, there will be a payoff for my commitment to the end.

message 10: by Lulu (new)

Lulu This sounds like a decent book but after reading your review (I'm not one up for chick lits anyways) I think I will stay away from it. Maybe watch the movie?

message 11: by Overbylass (last edited Jun 26, 2011 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Overbylass Maybe seeing the frailty in folk ,is a British thing and maybe doesn't translate to the 'clean living' US readers!

Lucy wrote'I'm not one up for chick lits anyways' -

Chicklit it isn't .I suspect the movie will be a disappointment ,due to the casting of an American Hollywood star , portraying a girl from the North of England-a socialist too .I'm dreading/hating the thought of Anne Hathaway attempting a Northern accent .Why do we have to make everything appeal globally ?

I really like the book - I'm British , a pessimist , in my early 40s. I would suggest that if it doesn't speak to you(on the synopsis) don't read it-it's clearly not to your taste. Why read it ?

message 12: by Ruthiella (last edited Jul 19, 2011 03:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruthiella Since I have read the book and liked it, I will probably skip the film anyway. I agree with the bad casting of Anne Hathaway (I guess Gwenneth Paltrow and her killer accent are too old now). Both are too tall anyway. I pictured Emma as petite and feisty.

Overbylass Ruthiella wrote: "Since I have read the book and liked it, I will probably skip the film anyway. I agree with the bad casting of Anny Hathaway (I guess Gwenneth Paltrow and her killer accent are too old now). Both a..."

I agree .Emma to me was as you describe . Anne Hathaway may prove me wrong with a good performance ,but the trailers are not looking too good.

Wendy Darling I just saw this. Totally agree, Tatiana--the end was a mercy.

Stephanie I loved the characters, but other than that I agree with everything you said. You don't spend 360 pages developing a character to do what he did just to end the novel that way...there was no reason for it. Just like The Time Travel's Wife, which I also despise. Finishing the book would not have mattered as the ending would have still been cheap, tantamount to 'and then I woke up' As an American, I don't mind seeing the frailty, I do mind authors that intentionally tug at heart strings which is what I believe Nicholls did...I don't read Nicholas Sparks for this reason and would not have read this book had it been advertised as such. If this book had stopped before the 'ending' (together or not) I would have loved it and recommended it to everyone I know. And it was the story I loved as it is universal and could be set in London, NYC, or Perth.

message 16: by Underpressure (new)

Underpressure thanks for the concise review, I will skip this one!

message 17: by Elen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elen I am considering reading this book again. I read it and my mind was drifting onto other things. I didnt give it my full attention.Maybe this is why I couldnt get exited about it.. When I think about the book ,there are parts I laughed out loud at and also felt embarressed for Dexter when he went on air drunk. I dont want to give anything away just incase someone hasnt read it. I was shocked also by something and shed a tear over it. Yes maybe I need to read it again. I read The Help and loved it . I watched the film last week and the lady sitting next to me both said ,we loved The Help and how close the film is to the book. She asked me if I had read One Day and said how much she loved it. Also how bad the film was.

message 18: by Dominika (new)

Dominika Haven't read the book but spare yourselves the movie! Awful.... awfulawfulawful. Anne Hathaway was awful, the chemistry was basically nonexistent, complete waste of time.

Tatiana Sounds like this movie adaptation is as "good" as the book itself.

Overbylass Amazing how many films don't live up to the books! This book seems to be like marmite -love it, or hate it (though I have read somewhere that you should never 'read to hate')

KOMET This book completely resonated with me. I LOVED IT! While I found Dexter through most of the story to be exasperating --- a posh chap who frittered away most of the opportunities that came his way in the first decade after graduating from university --- I found Emma to be a sympathetic character. Then too, I graduated from college in the 1980s and was able to relate closely to both Dexter and Emma. I’m American and the fact that the novel is set in Britain did not prevent me from being able to fully relate to its content.

message 22: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Weber I agree that Dexter had become a shallow, nearly thoroughly unlikeable individual by the middle of the book. But to say that 'Emma pined over him for years'does a huge discredit to the novel. The two certainly shared a deep love and respect for one another, without being in a love relationship together. It struck me as real.

Cecily I'm a Brit who enjoyed The Time Traveler, was pleasantly surprised by this, and who doesn't like chick lit. I think you're spot on about this not knowing its target audience.

Miguel Gonzalez woah woah, you're rating without finishing it? now if you finished it and still rated low, that's cool. Its your opinion, but its like not finishing a movie and telling people it was bad. I loved it, not all relationships work, and not everyone loves a cat and mouse game. The ending crushed me but it is what follows that sums it all up. Life goes on, life and love never ends in happily ever after. This book did it right in my opinion.

message 25: by Ali (new) - rated it 1 star

Ali Whitcombe Oh how I despised this book! The key characters drove me nuts and I wanted to bang their heads together. Also thought the ending was a cop out and didn't make me cry at all. Conscious I'm very much in the minority here.

Crystal Dawn This is a book that if you can pick it back up, I would strongly urge you to do so. It's like saying you were spoiled with the movie Titanic because you knew the ending. It's not the destination, but rather the journey.

message 27: by Elen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elen The first time I read this book I was getting over an operation and it was bought as a gift. To be honest I thought it was just ok. A few years later I read it again and loved it. Ive since re-read it at least three times !!! I love this book . Im sure all of us have done things we regret or feel embarressed about . Drank too much made a bit of a fool of ourselves...said things we regret. I did.Do!!! maybe not so much now. I suppose its true what pleases one person wont please another. Made my laugh out loud , cry and I said out loud please Dexter dont go on air in that state. Felt so sad for his father too. Ive just read The Understudy by David Nicholls and enjoyed that too. Maybe not quite as much as One Day.

Crystal Dawn Elen wrote: "The first time I read this book I was getting over an operation and it was bought as a gift. To be honest I thought it was just ok. A few years later I read it again and loved it. Ive since re-read..."

I'm actually about to read US By David Nicholls

Susan You gave up after 4 pages because someone spoiled the ending for you. The journey to the end is EVERYTHING - just like life itself. I am sorry to report that you will die in the end. Did I just spoil the ending for you? Does that mean it is not worth living, loving learning, and partaking in the journey? The book is not about the end but about the middle and the journey of the 2 characters and their love story - even though they were not lovers for most of the book.

message 30: by Karlie (new)

Karlie Lam I feel the same with you. I also don't like Dexter wasted his life and Emma just couldn't always get enough of the mental abuse from Dexter. I think the book depicts Dexter as a playboy but rather nasty. If i bump into a guy like him in my real life, I would definitely get away from him. What's more, the movie adapted from this book didn't really show the whole view of the book, which makes many of my friends who just watched the movie barely understand what I think of it.

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