One Day, by David Nicholls

This is a book that was on my TBR list (which I will update very soon). I had read a review of it – I can’t remember now if I read the review on amazon or in a newspaper, probably an online paper – and it intrigued me.

It lived up to the description in the review. I read it in about four, maybe five hours over Christmas.

Let’s see if I can explain the basic concept: Dexter and Emma get to know each other the day of their graduation from university. The book touches in on their lives every July 15 (the day/morning after) for almost twenty years. I’ve put the book away so I can’t double-check exactly how many years it is – I think it’s about twenty years total. Sometimes they see each other or interact on these days, sometimes they don’t – but July 15 is the only day of each year when the reader sees them.

It works so, so well. By only dipping in to their lives once a year, we don’t get bogged down into the significant trivia of their lives. I understand that that seems like an oxymoron, but the book is about their relationship over the years, not about the moments that are significant to their lives in other ways. If the book were about one of them as a character, then it could be more focused on those events – their other relationships, their other life choices. But it’s not: it’s about their relationship. Events that are important to their individual lives – lovers, jobs, moves – are mentioned and explained on each day, like catching up with a friend that you only see once a year. Even more than that, their own view of their relationship is described through these reminiscences. As Emma is waiting to meet Dexter, for instance, she thinks about how she sees him and how she thinks he sees her (and she’s quite accurate – she knows him well at this point).

It also highlighted for me – and reassured me – how completely things can change in a year or two. They both sort of fall into careers. They work at them, of course, but something in one year will happen that would have been completely inconceivable the previous year. As someone who has no idea what lies ahead in her life, that is incredibly reassuring. I know they’re fictional characters, but there’s an element of “It could happen that way for me, too” (and one that’s much more realistic than my typical “if only” books, romance novels). There is a bit of “When Harry Met Sally” in it, too – their friendship for many of the years transcends other relationships that they are in.

I haven’t heard much about this book since I read that first review, months and months ago. I really enjoyed this book, though, and think that it should be much better known than it seems to be right now.

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Filed under General Fiction, Romance

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