One Day: A Novel by David Nicholls (Vintage, $14.95, 448 pages)
David Nicholls’ novel One Day was recommended by my friend and colleague Joseph (the passion and dedication behind Joseph’s Reviews) who shared that this book was “just about the best love story I’ve ever read.” So with high expectations I sat down and finished the novel over the course of “one day” without disappointment.
Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew meet on their college graduation day. Although their backgrounds are far from parallel and they have nothing in common when it comes to their future plans, they make a commitment to a lifetime of friendship. Following a failed attempt at a romantic interlude (that we discover toward the end of the story), Emma continues to hope that the relationship will evolve into more than friendship as Dexter desires Emma but finds distractions in just about every woman he encounters. The reader witnesses the ebb and flow of their relationship as Nicholls presents a synopsis of their lives written on the same day each year over a 20-year time span.
I enjoyed both characters as the story evolved. Even during Emma’s continuous search for her life’s purpose and throughout the stages of Dexter’s egocentric lifestyle, I found their relationship heartwarming. Emma’s ability to see the “real” Dexter and love him desperately even during his destructive phases, and Dexter’s continuous need for Emma’s support without the constant need for her companionship, presents an honest portrayal of the challenges and benefits of long-term friendship. I enjoyed the cultural references outlined throughout the decades and was amused at the familiarity of the relationships I have with some of my own lifelong friends. I won’t reveal any more of the details of Emma and Dexter’s story but will assure you that it is unpredictable and won’t disappoint.
Nicholls has great skill in blending humor, wit, devastation, and confidence in his characters and storyline, which he presented through detailed and vibrant dialogue. I agree with my friend Joseph; this is one of the best love stories I’ve read. It was an immensely enjoyable read and truly deserves the accolades it has received. I am also a fan of actor Anne Hathaway so I believe that this wonderful storyline, combined with Hathaway’s talent, will make the movie version (coming out next week) well worth seeing.
A review copy was received from the publisher. “Every reader will fall in love with it. And every writer will wish they had written it.” Tony Parsons