I found this book in the most wonderful place on earth – the Book Barn. There it was, lying on a shelf, slightly dusty, looking unloved. So, I paid my pound – and nine others for the nine other books I found buried deep in the warehouse – and marched out, knowing it would be my next read.
(For those who don’t know the Book Barn is situated just outside Bath, UK and is home to thousands of second hand books, all available for just a pound – go check it out!)
At first I wasn’t sure I was going to get on with One Day because of its structure. The basic concept is this: girl meets boy, then each chapter tells the story of what happens to each of them on that same day – St Swithin’s Day, the day of their graduation – for the next 20 years. My issue was that with this style of narrative you get really hooked into what is happening in each of their lives just to drop it completely and fast forward a year. In a way these loose ends result in finishing each chapter with a little disappointment. However, it is a pretty unique idea and it has its merits – it allows the author to cover a huge amount of time very naturally. You are therefore able to spend nearly the character’s entire lives with them in just 435 pages.
It’s a novel that explores ‘how life might go’ for want of a better way of phrasing it. They meet on the night of their graduation, with no idea where they might be headed. That particularly resonated with me since my own graduation is fast approaching and I find myself wondering what I might do with the rest of my life.
I also think I fell in love with these characters just a little bit. Emma Morley has her faults, she wears goofy glasses, spends far too many years of her life completely lacking ambition and frustratingly never admits how she really feels, but she’s perfect. Dexter Mayhew, likewise, has a severe alcohol problem, likes the attention of women far too much and seems to fail at everything in life, embarrassing himself numerous times along the way, but I sort of wish he was my husband.
For the whole novel I found myself routing for them to get together. And there were SO many nearlies. This book really kept me on my toes and wanting to read more, and I think that’s purely down to character development – I really felt for them. David Nicholls is a truly talented writer. I was interested in what happened in their lives and was shocked by so many little plot twists, until the final plot twist that is, that left me utterly heartbroken. I don’t want to give too much away but this was the first book that made me cry since The Boy in Striped Pyjamas back in 2008.
I know there’s a film of One Day starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess but I’m a little undecided if I want to see it. I always find books so much better than the films and this novel is so good I don’t want to ruin it. Please let me know if you’d recommend the film and I might give it a go.
Over and out –