The true university these days is a collection of books.
-Thomas Carlyle

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

One Day by David Nicholls

This book has proved quite a hit on our novel holidays, being a recommendation and a lucky dip choice, so when someone else, who came with us this year, bought it for me last Christmas, it seemed appropriate to read it while away in Dorset. I thought I would finish it there, but actually finished it in Sweden.

Telling the story of Dexter and Emma, who meet on the last day of university in 1988 and remain friends over the next 20 years, we catch up with them on the same day each year, 15th July, St Swithins Day. As each chapter ends you jump another year ahead for the next one, and find out what is happening with them both and their relationship with each other.

Told with lots of humour, and wry observations of couples in the modern age, the concept of advancing a whole year with each chapter invites cliff hangers, pre-empting of plot, and lots of anticipation in the reader. It is a clever ploy, and works excellently here. The book is clever without being over complicated.

The ease with which the pages turn allows you to bond with both characters completely. You feel as if you know them, or have known someone like them, and become involved very early on. We are allowed into their secret feelings and will them together. Some of the other characters are very well developed too, Dexters mother, Emma's excrutiating boyfriend Ian, or the robotically imperfect Sylvie, making this book a very satisfying read. It is not slushy or sentimental, but identifiable, funny and engaging.

I really enjoyed taking Emma and Dexter on both of my holidays. In fact it was the perfect holiday book, easy to read, as well as to put down and pick up. I laughed out loud a couple of times, and there was a chapter near the end that made me cry openly. The nostalgia from the 1980s and '90s was also a pleasure, and the last chapters completed the book really well. Someone I work with was also reading it at the same time and we shared some of the same scenes that stuck in our minds. It is now out as a film so it will be interesting to see how they have interpreted it.

I really enjoyed it and will recommend it. I would also love to read another by the same author. If you are in the mood for something warm and moving, spanning life in England from the 1980's, not too taxing but very entertaining, then give this book a go.

You can read about this book and the others by David Nicholls on his website by using the link.

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