Sunday, 16 October 2011

One Day by David Nicholls

One Day is love story, but only cliché in how the pair end up together. As someone who usually prefers romance as a peripheral sort of thing, I was mesmerised by this book and the finely woven plot. It's told strangely, one day (the same date) each year of our two main characters over a period of years, but it isn't hard to get used to; it's rather clever actually.

I think I should say, before going further, that I had actually seen the movie before reading the book, but only because it was in its last run at the cinema. I'd put off going to try and read the book beforehand, but I was unlucky. I don't think this affected my reading too much, but I did know what was going to come in the story (I jumped in the movie) so I could see some of the preemptive clues.

The book is actually really good. Like amazingly good. I was completely in love with Emma (as I think you're supposed to be) and her self-chastisement and the occasional things she says that hints at her education and intelligence despite working in fast food. I laughed heartily when reading it, which isn't that common, so I can't say this side of the story was bad. Even the kind of sad elements about her, since I got the feeling she always was so, only made her deep and realistic. She acts charming, funny and content- but she spends so much time worrying inside. It's a bit cliché but it worked well.

Dexter, on the other hand, was...something that I can't politely say. Until he grew up. When he was older and had his little rant at Emma about politics and such, I really liked him. Once he matured a little, just after he got with Sylvie, I liked him more than at the beginning. When he was younger, he was a stereotypical, handsome bachelor who did whatever took his fancy. I can't abide characters like that, and only the pricks of a guilty conscience as he did these things kept me sane and reading about him. And he's right: Emma made him a better person by being around. On the days they were together, I found him much more bearable.

The reason I would be hesitant to call it just a love story is that the bulk of what is good about this book is the parts when it isn't romance, when there are issues of identity, day-to-day problems or the general feeling that life is falling apart around you. And then the conversation afterwards, when they examine their feelings (and all that clichéd jazz), means you can see these people growing up. I suppose when a book is written as this one is, that has to be the one thing you're bound to notice: that the characters are growing up. The French saying "the more things seem to change the more they stay the same" is true in that these people grow and do things we would never have expected, but they always have the same reasons we might expect. I think perhaps that phrase kind of sums up a lot of the book. Even though it sounds bad to say it, there was no true spontaneity and we can always say that something made sense.

All in all, it not hard to see why this book was so popular, even though for me some of Dexter's scenes dragged. The ending of the book is the real killer (no pun intended) and when you get to the last third, you don't want to stop because everything is going great, everyone's happy and you just know something has to happen. But to whom does it happen?

I don't think I'll forget this book too quickly, nor will cease recommending it to anyone.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree- it is an amazing book! I was really not expecting the ending- I was so shocked and had to reread the page about 10 times!
    Nice review :)