One Day – David Nicholls

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Hodder Paperbacks. 2010.

Well I thought I’d kick off with a review of the book I’ve just finished reading, the critically acclaimed and bestselling novel ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls, first published in 2009 (so I’m a little late to the party).

I’d heard a lot about this book, and seen the many five star reviews and complimentary quotes about it, so thought I’d be in for a treat. However, I finished it (finally!) a couple of days ago feeling rather disappointed and bewildered as to the multitude of brilliant reviews it has received.

The story begins at the graduation of the book’s protagonists, Dex and Em, from Edinburgh University on 15th July 1988 (St Swithin’s Day as we are soon to find out). Em (Emma Morley) is from Yorkshire; a wannabe writer, fiercely intelligent, sharp tongued, opinionated and a little dull. Dex (Dexter Mayhew) grew up in a large family home in the Cotwolds; privately schooled, charismatic, good looking and always the life and soul of the party. They spend the night together as friends and then go their separate ways. We then catch up with them on this same date every year for the next 20 years as the book charts the course of their lives and their friendship.

Whilst I enjoyed the premise and structure of the book, following these characters by seeing just a snippet of their lives each year, I have to say that I found it all rather predictable. There was little to surprise the reader (apart from one stand alone moment towards the end of the book) and it panned out pretty much how I expected. In some instances I don’t mind predictability if the writing grabs me and the characters are engaging but I found Dex and Em pretty…..dull. They were both fairly uninspiring and irritating and I just wasn’t really connected to them or their story and consequently didn’t particularly care about them.

I kept trying to like it, really I did. Felt like I should like it when it has had such praise heaped upon it, but sadly I just couldn’t. It’s hard to like a story about characters that you feel fairly indifferent towards. It was rather a slog to get to the end which can never be a good sign.

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Focus Features, 2011. Directed by Lone Scherfig.

I am interested, though, to see the 2011 film adaptation, in which Nicholls himself wrote the screenplay, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess as Em and Dex. I love Anne Hathaway, so am hoping I might be more invested in the story with her portraying one of the protagonists. I’m also going to give David Nicholls another go. I have his latest offering ‘Us’ ready to read and will see if that appeals to me more.

Even though this wasn’t for me, so many people love this book so give it a try and make up your own mind. The world would be a boring old place if we all felt the same way about everything!

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