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I initially was going to just buy this book for a friend's birthday after browsing for recently published books with good reviews on Amazon. However, the comments were so positive and the cover so appealing I dropped a copy in my shopping cart for myself and I'm really glad I did.

Essentially the book covers the relationship between Emma and Dexter, who meet on their graduation day. Each chapter revisits them wherever they are on the same day for the next twenty years.

I've not read Nicholl's other novel, 'Starter for Ten', but had seen the film because the lovely James McAvoy was in it. Those who commented on that book here have said how accurate Nicholl's was in recounting what life was like as a students in the 80s. Nicholl's eye for detail shines again but his accurate recall extends through the 90s and into the present day. As I read what was happening to the characters I began to think about where I was and what I was doing at that point in time. The characters became very real to me; they were really like friends by the time I finished and then I simply didn't want to leave them. Nicholl's creates two people and a relationship which I found very believable; I laughed, cried and wanted to shake some sense into both of them throughout.

I would definitely recommend for a holiday read even though now I'm still not sure about the way the book was concluded. If anyone else has read this, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Haven't read this, Thumbsucker, but I just wanted to post to say how good it is to see you back round these parts again! I hope we'll see more of you!

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Thanks David! Unfortunately, a very hectic time at work and buying a house that needs a lot of work have really swallowed up my free time but I hope I will be here a lot more regularly.

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Finished this on holiday. It really is a fantastic read. It seems quite average until the end. It really made me stop and think and I'm still thinking about it a couple of weeks after I've finished it.

 

Thought provoking.

 

 

Phoebus

 

(How to you put hidden spoilers into the entry so we can talk about the end?)

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A couple of times a week I go for long runs with a friend. We take it in turns to suggest a book and then we buy two of them: one for each. We read it and then discuss it on our long runs.

 

The last book we picked was One Day which we read on holiday. I went running with him last night and we had a good chat about it.

 

We both thought it fantastic. It has everything that we're looking from literature. It's a rivetting read; it's humourous; it has its good moments and sad ones; you can empathise with the characters; its structure is innovative and it makes you stop and think about relationships and other people.

 

 

As with other books written by this author, it is written as a romantic comedy, so the two HAVE to get married or at least be with each other in order to be true to the literary form. When they got married, I looked at how many pages there were left and from memory there were about sixty or so.

 

I thought, then, what on earth can happen next. Of course, she dies, but Nicholls has been very clever to extend what is meant by romantic comedy by seeing what happens beyond the initial happy ending.

 

The ending, for me, was perfect. The last page or so flashes back to one of their first encounters, 'giving the address'. A mundane moment in life which in fact shapes our entire future. Leaving it as a flashback to the end increased its weight and impact. "Goodbye Goodbye" are the last words of the novel, giving a retrospective ironic effect. I thought the ending was perfect. So few books have this effect when you turn over that final page.

 

And then there were other aspects. Would they have had a happy marriage? I think not. They were already bickering when they were looking to buy their house together, the day she died. Do the characters themselves look at their own lives through rose tinted flasses which perhaps cannot be concealed from the eye of the observing reader?

 

I could go on but all in all, brilliant.

 

 

Phoebus

 

PS Thanks for tip on spoilers, Flingo.

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A couple of times a week I go for long runs with a friend. We take it in turns to suggest a book and then we buy two of them: one for each. We read it and then discuss it on our long runs.
Why, that sounds like the perfect running relationship! I am so jealous. I have my iPod for company and sometimes my eldest whose conversation extends to the merits of Ben 10's aliens.

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Why, that sounds like the perfect running relationship! I am so jealous. I have my iPod for company and sometimes my eldest whose conversation extends to the merits of Ben 10's aliens.

It's a good format, Hazel. It was Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana that gave me the idea.

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I have just finished this and have to say that I really loved it. I was worried it might be a bit "chick-lit", but it wasn't. As others have said, the ending is not traditional chick-lit fare and is all the better for this.

 

Have any of the chaps here read it? I would be interested to know what a man thought of it.

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I have just finished this and have to say that I really loved it. I was worried it might be a bit "chick-lit", but it wasn't. As others have said, the ending is not traditional chick-lit fare and is all the better for this.

 

Have any of the chaps here read it? I would be interested to know what a man thought of it.

 

Here's a man's point of view for you, Nellie...

 

I'm coming to the conclusion David Nicholls is a remarkably underrated novelist. He's not aspiring to literary artistry, but he does what he does really, really well.

 

"One Day" is a step on from his previous two efforts. It is a bit like a fine comedian trying to get himself taken seriously as an actor and succeeding. His debut "Starter for Ten" and to a lesser extent its follow up "The Understudy" were studies of amiably buffoonish and geeky lads, but "One Day" takes a more sober view of the aging of his generation.

 

The premise is simple. Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley wake up in Dexter's bed in his Edinburgh student flat on St. Swithin's Day, July 15th, 1988, the morning after both have graduated. The novel then drops in on their lives over the next 18 years on the same date - the ups and downs in their careers, their love lives and their friendship from their 20s into early middle age.

 

It is often a chronicle of disappointment and what, with retrospect, turn out to be poor choices. Death, divorce, drink, infidelity and struggles to conceive all feature; both achieve fame and success too, but at a price. The most satisfaction, Nicholls suggests, can come from life's more modest, everyday victories - children, a successful small business - rather than the glare of the spotlight.

 

"One Day" isn't perfect. Emma is his first female protagonist and as a character feels less well drawn than Dexter, who sometimes becomes a re-run of "Starter for Ten"'s Brian Jackson; he's a typical Nicholls male lead.

 

The author also brings things to a climax rather too soon and, after strict chronological order, then makes a somewhat superfluous jump back to the beginning of their story that feels rather like padding.

 

Apart from that, as a novel, it flows well, nothing feels forced, the observation is pinpoint and it all feels very naturalistic.

 

Hopefully, Nicholls won't go down the Nick Hornby path of trying too hard and lose sight of what made his writing such a delight in the first place. If he does, this will stand as undoubtedly his finest wrok.

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Great review Grammath!

 

Is it worth reading Nicholls earlier books or will I be disappointed after this one?

 

Thanks, Nellie.

 

I've enjoyed all his novels, but I think you might find the first two pale in comparison to "One Day". "Starter for Ten" is definitely worth it, provided you adjust your expectations accordingly. "The Understudy" felt like a bit of a retread of the first novel with actors rather than students but it is by no means a bad book.

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Me again.

 

I have been recommending this to anyone of my vintage. (As I mentioned on Currently Reading, the characters' graduation day was a few days after my own, in a city a few miles from my own...)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this, almost despite myself. The characters at times felt like ciphers for the time, vehicles to carry the writers' lifestyle observations rather than well rounded people. I would have liked it if they hadn't so neatly encapsulated the cliches of each age.

However, I totally fell for their story. I liked the fact that things went wrong for them in believable ways, if sometimes not unexpected,

such as Dexter's difficulty with parenthood.

 

I could forgive Nichols shoehorning in year-appropriate cultural observations because they were just so well done, like the mid-90s argument about mobile phones. Other observations, like the three waves of weddings, are probably just true of growing up, and made me groan in recognition. (I was mentally assigning all the weddings I have been to!)

Overall, though, it just made me think about the expectations of ourselves that we have in early adulthood, and how we cope with the disappointments and surprises and transitions we go through. The part which stayed with me the most was near the end,

when Emma, in the flashback, is standing on a street corner after leaving Dexter, and she is thinking something like, what now? How do I fill all the hours from now? I totally felt like that at graduation, and I thought I was alone.

 

It might have been a fairly lightweight book in one way, but it has stayed with me and made me reflect.

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It might have been a fairly lightweight book in one way, but it has stayed with me and made me reflect.
I think that this book was very well written, its lightweight tone concealing the depth of the story and strength of the characters. I read a review of this on the weekend which thought that apart, the two characters were quite unlikeable but together they worked. I certainly agree that Dexter was unpleasant enough until he had to grow up but I liked Emma and felt a lot of empathy for her. I'd be interested to hear how the men who've read this feel about Emma, was she really a whingeing drifter??!

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The characters at times felt like ciphers for the time, vehicles to carry the writers' lifestyle observations rather than well rounded people. I would have liked it if they hadn't so neatly encapsulated the cliches of each age.

 

I felt this and for that reason I gave up quite early on.

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I have been recommending this book since I finished it. Our student teacher enjoyed it, and she's only in her 20s, disproving my assumption that it would really only appeal to readers of my generation, because we had that particular T Shirt.

After a run of dodgy choices, our staff book group has gone for this as their next read, after hearing me and student enthusing!

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I'm a male reader of the book, recommended it by another male reader, then borrowed it off my sister! I liked it!

 

I'm fascinated by the fact that some seem to be labelling this "chick-lit". I thought it was in the same sort of vein as Nick Hornby (I've just read 'Juliet Naked' as well), or Paul Burke. Chick-lit for blokes?

 

Anyway, back to the book. I liked the premise and the way some years the text covered the reason why they were or were not speaking 'this' year. The Dexter character annoyed througout most of the book for being a comfortable, family money, media babe magnet stereotype. There were some predictable moves, and I'd more or lessed guessed the climax of the book about three years in. However, the "thoughts" of the characters were great to read, and the (platonic) longing they both had for each other seemed believable.

 

The Emma character was a little awkward, the whole sleeping with Dex on the last day at Uni was a bit of a silly construct, but of course without it there would be no story! And of course, when she does get a proper job she becomes another comfy stereotype. But, overall I didn't think she was a "whinging drifter", though with such a good degree and being so 'sensible' I was surprised she didn't get a good job straight after graduating.

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I finished this yesterday and am feeling bereft. It very rare that you get a book like this, engaging, full of smart one liners and a super light read which turns around and whams you with such a punch near the end. David Nicholls set it up really well too because I simply didn't see it coming. For once the blurb on the front about two charecters that will stay with you is absolutely true.

 

My husband, who loved the book and has been nagging me to read it, thinks that the ending is a huge cop out.

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Just read this book on holiday and absolutely loved it.

 

I agree with those who find it a step up from Starter for Ten, which I enjoyed very much for its brilliant observational comedy, but found rather shallow overall. THis was far from shallow.

 

I loved the format of the book, and how you found out how the protagonists were getting on, both separately and in their relationship together, by "dropping in" on them on the same day each year. I found the ups and downs of their life both authentic and poignant and by the end of the book was completely involved in the characters lives.

 

I personally loved the sudden return to the first day of the book towards the end, and have some more information to fill in the gaps in my knowledge about how these two people started out in their long friendship. I loved the unexpected turns of the book, and the author's masterful understanding of human nature throughout, not to mention his ability to make the reader laugh out loud on numerous occasions.

 

Very highly recommended by me!

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I got through the first three-quarters of this book thinking well, not Dostoevsky, but well-written, sharp funny dialogue and prose, engaging characters and a really authentic feel to it. Then the climactic event of the novel happened and left me reeling - I was an emotional wreck for the rest of that night and most of the next day. In my book any writer who can do that to me is worthy of a Nobel prize.

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has anybody read one day by david nicholls? It is so true to real life and the characters Emma and Dexter could quite possibly be your best friends. I could read it over and over though the ending always gets to me

 

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Hello CAH4EVA ,welcome to BGO , I missed seeing you in introductions. I haven't read this but I like the sound of it, and will add it to my Hmm That's Interesting pile. There was a film about it a few years ago with Anne Hathaway in it.   Have you seen the film as well and would you recommend that? 

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