Today: Jun 17, 2024

Book Review: “One Day” by David Nicholls

Brianne KaneSpecial to the Southern News

The national best seller, “One Day” by David Nicholls is as People Magazine describes “one of the most hilarious and emotionally riveting love stories you’ll ever encounter” – and People magazine is actually right this time! “One Day” follows the story of Emma and Dexter, two almost-friends from college who almost get together and almost fall in love and almost live happily ever after, who the reader watches through their entire adult life.

The novel starts the night of their graduation, or more specifically, the next morning. Dexter and Emma wake up together, post coitus and happily infatuated with each other. Emma muses on about wanting to change the world, while Dexter considered the various exotic and fantastic places he’d like to travel.

Emma grew up with modest, blue collar worker parents; Dexter grew up in what we would now call a “McMansion” with parents who stepped right out of Vogue magazine. The Cinderella parallels are almost too much to handle. But then, Cinderella gets tossed out the window and what starts as a corny Nicholas Sparks novel turns into a twirling, reality stricken, dark and glorious love story between two people that can’t seem to find themselves without each other.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun read for a lazy weekend – this is it. If you’re looking for a novel to convince you true love exists, and rainbows and happiness is on the other side of your honeymoon – run, run like your life depended on it. This story will not rise your hopes, but it will give you hope. Emma and Dexter, as characters, are fully “fleshed out” meaning that by the end of the novel there is a clear character development and insight.

As an observer, the reader watches as Emma’s post-graduate dreams turn to dust, as Dexter develops a drug problem, as one of them gets married and has a baby, while the other has a string of loose love affairs, punctuated with a few serious relationships but nothing to write home about. For most of the novel, Emma and Dexter are strictly friends, for part of the novel they have no friendship between them at all.


The most notable aspect to this novel however is the writing: its show-stopping. Maybe because the target audience is postgraduates or nearly postgraduates (so, all of SCSU’s student body) and maybe because one can’t always help oneself but to dive into a romance novel heard first but…this romance novel is anything but romantic, and yet, the writing is. The descriptions of time, place, and character are not only spot on but beautiful. For example, Emma’s first description of Dexter:

“Eyes closed, the cigarette glued languidly to his lower lip, the dawn light warming the side of his face through the red filter of the curtains, he had the knack of looking perpetually posed for a photograph. Emma Morley thought ‘handsome’ a silly, nineteenth-century word, but there  really was no other word for it, except perhaps ‘beautiful.’ He had one of those faces where you were aware of the bones beneath the skin, as if even his bare skull would be attractive.”

Now how did something that ended with the image of her lover’s skinless skull sound beautiful? No one knows, but now everyone wants Dexter in their bed. The writing of the novel is like that, sometimes it is beautiful and jaw dropping, and a few sentences later it’s discussing the exact color of brown that the sludge on the bottom of the sink is. It’s life!

The narration of the characters is true to life – just as you’re mooning over how beautiful the clear blue sky is…you get a wedgie, or a bug flies up your nose, or you realize you’re lost suddenly. Don’t misunderstand, there is a clear leaning towards a happy ending in this novel (however don’t get your hopes too high) but it almost acts like a pendulum, swaying from the ideal to the crude. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess did amazing jobs acting as Emma and Dexter; however major portions of the plot and character development were left out of the script. Because of this I would suggest reading the story before watching the movie; however the movie is just as enjoyable for a Saturday quickie.

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