The Literature Hub
Reviewed by Lena Jean Ganley
Author: David Nicholls
Publisher & Pages: Hodder & Stoughton, 435 pages
Blurb: You can live your whole life not realising what you are looking for is right in front of you. 15th Juy 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?
Highlight: An easy to read novel with many humorous anecdotes.
Caution: Clichéd and obvious, it is very hard to drag yourself past page 203.
Review: One Day, the third novel from author David Nicholls is sickly sweet, mildly humorous, but mostly just plain long. It’s the kind of novel that you force yourself to read on an international flight when you have already paged through the safety instructional manual. Whilst enjoyable, One Day envolves in such a familiar way, that I found myself wondering if I could simply skip to the obvious end. As it turns out, the dorky girl with aloof playboy romance ends exactly where most American films do, a slightly nauseous feeling from too many sweets.
Spanning two decades, One Day makes you realise that if your life were to flash before your eyes, it would be rather a dull sight. 1988 is its beginning, opening on a university dorm floor where Emma and Dexter share a one night stand that turns into a long distance friendship, and returning to them every subsequent year on July 1st.
Unfortunetly, the author leaves out both time and personality, with One Day failing to invent any real character dimension in the entire twenty years of clichéd, circumstantial life changes. Both characters represent the usual societal suspects; the save the world, yet insecure intellectual female who miserably swoons over Dexter, a dull aristocrat with a wandering eye. It is maddening to watch Dexter only realise he loves Emma after she has a butterfly like transformation and Dexter is a washed up divorcee. Last resort springs to mind more than a triumph of passion, and I still can’t quite forgive the author for allowing Dexter to be an obnoxious cad the entire novel. One Day does however lend itself to being somewhat of a comfort food, with a strange sense of friendship forming with Em and Dex, who I half expected to jump out and play scrabble in my living room.
While I won’t miss their friendship, One Day is a genuine if not slightly mundane representation of a clumsy, adolescent love story. It is ridiculously easy to read and would make a few lazy, or perhaps boozy summer afternoons a little more entertaining. While it has moments of genuine heart and heaviness, One Day is like watching a rom-com at the cinema when it should have gone straight to DVD.
Star Rating: 2 1/2 stars
Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook