Friday 2 September 2011

Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls.

Product details:
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton.
Paperback, 435 pages.
Release date: February 4th 2010 (first published 2009).
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult.

It's 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives—lives very different from the people they once dreamed they'd become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two. 

Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

Wonderfully witty and observant David Nicholls’ One Day has won over both readers and critics alike since its release in 2009.  Reading like a screenplay, it was inevitable that this book would see its big screen transfer sooner rather than later, and so, with the movie recently hitting cinemas across the world, I thought it was high time I read One Day and found out for myself what it is that makes this book so special.

One Day tells the story of two very different people, Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley over twenty years, providing us with fragments of their lives on one day, July 15th, each year. We follow Emma and Dex from the end of their university days and the beginning of life in the real world, right through their twenties, thirties and early forties and all the changes those decades bring.  We get to witness their hopes and fears, their dreams, their loves, their losses and all the while we wonder if they will ever be more than just good friends, or rather if they should ever be more than just good friends, because Emma and Dex are not what you would call a match made in heaven.  Emma is a bookish working class northerner with low self-esteem while Dex, less academically inclined and from a privileged background is good-looking and confident to the extreme. They say though that opposites attract, and Emma has always had a crush on Dex.  When, after their first night together, they go their separate ways, she can’t but wonder what might have been, and keeps in touch by sending him long letters as he travels around the world. Self-absorbed Dex can barely manage to send her one-line postcards in return, and doesn’t take much meaning from her painstakingly written letters.   Essentially he’s not ready for a relationship, but as the years progress and Emma and Dex maintain their friendship, has their moment passed, or will there still be time for romance?

 As I was reading One Day I wondered if I would connect with the characters. The structure of the book means that the reader only gets to delve into the lives of Emma and Dex for a few hours every year, but the truth is I don’t think I have ever known characters as well as I got to know these two, and I was sad to say goodbye to them.  The characters and their lives are written with such realism that everyone will identify with them in some way, and therin lies the beauty and the mass appeal of this book. Emma and Dex are flawed, realistic characters. You will see something of yourself or someone you know in them, while their friendship is universally relatable.  Not only does One Day ponder  ‘the one that got away’ or ‘the friend who might have been something more’  it also raises that age old question that asks if men and women can ever truly be just good friends, and I think everybody has asked themselves that at one time or another!

One Day is an overall great read, living up to all the praise and hype that it has received. Along with the engaging and well written story of Emma and Dex that will make you laugh and cry, One Day is also a fantastic cultural narrative and has a  nostalgic element to it as it journeys through the years. I really enjoyed reading Emma and Dex’s story I’m now all ready to experience the movie and to judge Anne Hathaway’s accent for myself!


  1. i've just bought this today so i'm very much looking forward to reading it soon and hopefully before seeing the movie so i can compare the two

  2. YOu make this sound so good. I started reading it today. I'm only on page 77 but I'm bored.
    I will persevere though as you say it's so good. Hope I'll get into it more.

    I'm reading it because I want to see the film- Anne Hathaway is one of my favourite actresses.

  3. I am glad you liked this! I personally loved it. I thought the 'love story' behind these two characters was simply realistic and believable. I can't wait to see the film - although maybe I will just wait for it to come out on dvd

  4. Great review Leanna! I don't read many adult titles but I definitely am interesting in trying this before it comes out in the movies :)

  5. I was just saying that I want to read the book before I see the movie. I'm so glad you reviewed it and enjoyed it--now I will have to get a copy. I love the premise of One Day and you'll have to tell me if the movie is good. Anne's accent, although I only heard it for a few minutes during the movie trailer, it sounded a bit weird to me--you'll have to tell me if she does a good job w/ it. Great review, Leanna!

  6. I love this book so much! My favorite read this year, characters stayed with long after reading the last page.

  7. Hi Leanna, love your review. I'm a massive One Day fan too (I think everyone can relate to 'the friend who could have easily be something more if it wasn't for x, y, z and life getting in the way thing!'. I went to see the film a couple of weeks back, and it sticks really closely to the text, which is good. But I think at the start, the year jumping is a little bit too fast and it kind of makes you think 'who ARE these people and where on earth am i!'. Whereas the book can give you a better insight into the characters, the film obviously has to take a few short cuts here and there. I'd still recommend it though! You can read my review of the film here if you're interested,

    I would love to hear your thoughts! x

  8. It took me a second to realize that this was the book the new movie was based on. It sounds really good and I can't wait to read it. I definitely need to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the great review :)

  9. Sounds like a wonderful narrative about friendship and love. I have seen the movie trailers and love Hathaway and will eventually see it, but now I really want to read the book first. Great review!

  10. great review! I loved this one and also thought it worked really well even though you only got a few hours of their lives! I cant wait to see the film version as I really want to know how true it will be kept to the book!

  11. I recently read this book and didn't like it as much! I want to see the movie but I am iffy on that. Thanks for the review!

  12. I once had an ARC of this book before it was published in the States but I passed it on to someone else because I didn't have time to read it. Now I wish I had! I am glad to hear how much you liked this book. I will definitely be picking up a copy when I can. I don't know about the movie though. I may wait till it is on DVD. I am not a fan of Anne Hathaway's "British" accent at least as it was in Becoming Jane but maybe it has improved since then.

  13. I've been meaning to read this for ages now!!

    Great review! :D

  14. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    @Bex - I hope the book gets better for you. I really identified with their close male/female friendship and I love reading books that explore the is 'friends only' possible theme. That was my favourite aspect of the book.

    @Pros&Cons - Popping over now! :)

  15. oh i really love the premise of this book. i should organise myself to read it before the movie comes out ...

    fab review chicky :)

  16. So I have to read the book before watching the movie. I love those stories that take place over a great span of time and also allow a greater development of feelings and thoughts of characters

  17. I've had this book forever but really want to read it soon so I can see the movie! (I'm a book before the film kinda gal ;) ) thanks for the review its good to know you enjoyed it I like when it feels like you really get to know the characters.

  18. So glad you loved this book too Leanna. I just came back from watching the movie - and having had little to low expectation of what to expect, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I loved the movie adaptation of this book. Great review - you certainly capture the essence of what makes this book such a deeply compelling and wonderful read!


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