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David Nicholls – One Day

Book Cover

We may know the answer well, but when it comes to actually acting on it why do we generally jump ship?

Publisher: Hodder
Pages: 433
ISBN: 978-0-340-89698-3
First Published: 2009
Date Reviewed: 19th November 2010
Rating: 3/5

Dexter and Emma were acquainted during university, and Emma fell for Dexter pretty much instantly; but it isn’t until their graduation that they finally hook up. This doesn’t equate to happy ever after however, due to silly reasoning and steadfast views. There’s definitely something there though, and it seems there always will be, no matter what happens along the way.

I have to admit disappointment, and a lot of that has to do with the rave reviews I’ve read (I’ve not found a negative one yet) and all the quotations on the cover of the book from well-known authors. Why the disappointment? For one, I’m afraid that the book is far too similar to Cecelia Ahern’s Where Rainbows End, which I read a few years ago. While Ahern’s book isn’t exactly stellar, it is dramatic, bold, contains enough angst, and ends in the way you’d expect – whereas One Day isn’t as engrossing and the idea of only including a single day of each year becomes off-putting when you realise you don’t know half as much about the characters as you should do. There is also the fact that Nicholls has to fill you in on all the days you’ve missed in-between, and because he’s used the same date every year there are a lot of events referred to that you can’t help but think would’ve made for a better book, had they been included.

The characters are alright, but as previously discussed you don’t get enough time to know them. This is a shame because it’s akin to knowing that the person you just struck up a conversation with would be a fantastic friend for you – if only protocol didn’t dictate that now you must go your separate ways because the party has ended and that at this stage in your acquaintance asking for phone numbers would be too forward.

The climax comes several chapters before the end, leaving you wondering why – and then you find out as a second climax rears its head. This second climax is unfortunately very cliché. It isn’t predictable but upon reading it I just wanted to groan.

One thing Nicholls does do well is raise a few laughs, and there are some great extracts, humorous and not so, which I’m adding here so that you don’t wonder why I’ve given this book better-than-half marks when it seems like I’m giving it zero:

…this would be the third girlfriend, lover, whatever, that she had met in the last nine months, Dexter presenting them up to her like a dog with a fat pigeon in his mouth.

“It’s like everyone has a central dilemma in their life, and mine was can you be in a committed, mature, loving adult relationship and still get invited to threesomes?”
“And what’s the answer, Dex?” she asked, solemnly.
“The answer is no, you can’t. Once you’ve worked that out, it all gets a bit simpler.”
“It’s true; an orgy won’t keep you warm at night.”
“An orgy won’t care for you when you’re old.”

It takes until the very, very end before Nicholls finally divulges what happened at the start of the friendship, the day after the one he talked about, but this is cut short and, to use the dog and pigeon metaphor afforded by Nicholls himself, as soon as you think he’s presenting you his finds and you reach towards them, he snatches his head away and runs off with the pigeon. Some details you will never know.

And it’s a great pity really, because similarities with Ahern aside this could have been a very good book.

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December 16, 2010, 4:30 am

I have this one waiting for me on my shelf. I picked it up because it had a Nick Hornby quote on it. Sorry to hear you didn’t love it. I’m glad to have read your less-than-glowing review, as it will knock my expectations down a bit and probably allow me to enjoy the book more.

Charlie: I think I might have enjoyed it more had I come across less positive reviews so while saying “you’re very welcome” might sound bad, I’m glad to have filled that gap for you. I came across another review the other day at Write Meg. She didn’t enjoy it much either and talks about things I haven’t covered.

mary Ann Langan

December 22, 2010, 8:25 pm

thanks! for sharing



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