There seems to be a huge buzz surrounding the imminent release of the film One Day starring Anne Hathaway, so I thought it pertinent to add my book review of the novel. One Day by David Nicholls has been at the top of the fiction best seller list twice last year in February and December, and is now back up in number 1 spot again due to rekindled interest over the hype of the big screen adaptation.
So you may find it strange that I am probably in the minority of people who did not enjoy the book! It was touted as the ‘romance of the modern century’, but unfortunately I didn’t find any empathy with the characters and was not seduced by their ‘love story’.
Yorkshire girl Emma Morley meets charming ladies’ man Dexter Mayhew at University where they engage in a drunken encounter on their graduation on 15th July, St Swithin’s Day, in 1988, and thereafter make a pact to remain friends. We catch up with their lives every 15th July over 20 years, and watch their relationship develop, although it does not always flourish, with each of them going separate ways before coming together again. Dex travels the world and Emma works hard in a Tex-Mex restaurant in London. It is obvious to us, the readers, that Emma loves Dex, but we are not always so sure how he feels about her, and their friendship is often tested, the first time in 1992 when they decide on a spontaneous whim to go away on holiday together.
Eventually Dexter lands a job in TV and starts enjoying a destructive and hedonistic lifestyle, consuming women, drugs and drink in huge quantities. Emma becomes a teacher and acquires a boyfriend, Ian, a hopeless stand-up comedian.
Of course, the inevitable happens and Dex’s career plummets, leading him to a place that can best be described as ‘rock bottom’. Well, they say you always have to get there to realise what you had, and this is probably the inevitable part of the storyline… During one of their nights out on the 15th July in 1995, Emma tells Dex that she loves him, but no longer likes him.
One Day has some endearing moments, and I did enjoy the nostalgic references that I could identify with that popped over the course of the narrative – the Thatcher years particularly – and there are also some very humorous lines with David Nicholls using Ian as a purveyor of some funny laugh-out-loud moments.
So do I think that the book has achieved such success because it was written by a man? There might be something in that. Maybe, just maybe, when I see the film I will become a total convert and will fall in love with the whole romantic premise… reminiscent of the ‘can a man and a woman just be friends’ assertion as seen in When Harry Met Sally! Apparently Anne Hathaway’s Yorkshire accent leaves something to be desired, so it is a case of watch this space for my movie review!
Having just said all the above… ‘spoiler alert’ – I did cry at the end of the novel!