Book review: One Day

By David Nicholls
Published by
Hodder & Stoughton

One Day. The number of prizes that it was shortlisted for or which it won is countless. One Day is one of those novels that, over the past year, everyone seemed to be reading and talking about at one point or another. It might make not much sense but, for this very reason, I was slightly put off.

How wrong I was. I am so grateful to all the friends that nagged me until I read it and I hope that this review will help any of you sceptics out there to pick up this novel.

Made even more famous by its film adaptation, One Day narrates the rollercoaster relationship between Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew. Intellectual and idealistic the former, fun-loving and commitment-phobic the latter. We meet them as they spend their first night together on 15th July 1988 - the night before their graduation - and we follow them as, year after year, they become best friends, fight their mutual attraction, fall out, make up again and, basically, do all those things that are generally described as “growing up”.

The two main characters are so well-rounded that, like with normal acquaintances, you’ll go through times of being totally supportive of them and times of being extremely annoyed by their behaviour. Nicholls made Emma and Dexter so real that letting them go at the end of the novel was very hard.

Credible characters and an intriguing narrative are complemented by the unusual format. We meet Emma and Dexter for the first time on 15th July 1988 and then every year after that on the same day. Every time a chapter ends and a new one begins there is the thrill of not knowing what happened in the intervening year and the excitement at finding out.

Finishing with a twist that I absolutely didn’t see coming, it’s no wonder that One Day became the big success that it is.


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