One Day by David Nicholls
This phenomenally successful book was intended as a ‘light read’ for our August meeting. In fact it proved to be a very cleverly constructed novel that follows the funny/tragic love story of Emma and Dexter over their twenty year friendship, by looking at just one day (July 15th) of each year. It gives a series of snapshots of the relationship and how the two characters develop both separately and as a couple. We are left to imagine what has happened in the intervening 364 days. It has been described as ‘a book about growing up – how we change and how we stay the same’.
We identified with many of the experiences of the characters, often cringingly realistic in the humorous descriptions given. It succeeds as a social novel set in a recognisable modern Britain. Everyone empathised with Emma. Dexter was more complex and at some points it was difficult to understand what Emma saw in him.
The style is simple and unaffected but incredibly subtle – never sentimental or gushing. The dialogue is totally believable. It has a tangible emotional impact because we care about what happens to the characters.
And the moral to the story?
"Live each day as if it's your last', that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn't practical. Better by far to be good and courageous and bold and to make difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance."— David Nicholls