One Day, by David Nicholls

Story of Em and Dex - Dex and Em, and how their lives and relationship develop over a twenty year period, with each section of the book set on the same day in successive years.

Dexter has charm and charisma and appears to have a everything going for him, while Emma seems destined for a less glittering existence. But despite their differences, and throughout the ups and downs of their lives, their friendship survives. But the question that hangs over the book is: will they ever be more than friends?

This probably is the best book - or at least the most enjoyable book - that I've read for some time. It was extremely readable and the characterisation was fantastic. It was very funny - Emma frequently punctures Dexter's pomposity and pretension and I laughed out loud a lot ("was it a peanut? A dry-roasted peanut?"). And it was sad too - made me cry a couple of times. It reminded me quite a lot of Jonathan Coe - perhaps not so tightly plotted Coe, but easily as readable, and with a similar emotional punch. I'm glad to see that the paperback has a quote from Coe on it, good to know he's read it.

The book was fairly long - 15 CDs, but as the end approached I was dreading having to finish it, and now that I have there feels like a gap in my life. While I was listening to it, I had a couple of other books on the go but they just felt flat and boring, because I only wanted to hear about Emma and Dexter. In fact I am very tempted to listen to it again straight away - although I haven't worked out yet whether that would be a good idea or not.

Emma was lovely all the way through - such a lovely person, and I suppose perhaps the ideal partner (or perhaps, the ideal partner for someone like David Nicholls), although obviously Dexter doesn't appreciate this (otherwise there wouldn't be a story). Dexter starts out pretty obnoxious, although despite this, you can see why Emma likes him, and as the book progresses you end up coming to do so as well. I think the way his character develops isn't fantastically surprising, but it's very convincingly done.

If I'm being critical then what I'd pick out was that almost all of the narrative is from either Emma's or Dexter's perspective, or from that of an omniscient narrator who's in the room with them. But there was one small section (with Slyvie and Callum) where that didn't happen, and this felt a little bit of a shame. The other thing was that, before I finished the book, I thought of how I'd have things turn out if I'd written it, and the story did in fact end in a similar way. So I was slightly disappointed that he hadn't thought of something better than my idea (but only very slightly).

This is the sort of book you want to recommend to everyone. In fact I've bought two copies of it so I'll have one to give away.


Completed : 04-Jun-2011 (audiobook)

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