One Day – another well remembered book

Greetings from up North, where the sun is shining (now- I drove to work this morning in fog!) and looks to continue. Maundy Thursday service in a little while, having spent an hour trying to make an Easter garden- turf, anyone? Still, many Easter eggs laid in for Sunday…

One of my book groups meets soon, and it is discussing One Day by David Nicholls.

I read this novel about a year ago, and found it a very truthful, honest, insightful and moving book. The original encounter on Graduation day of Dexter and Emma reads as so painfully possible, and I winced throughout Emma’s trial’s and tribulations in Theatre in Education, working in various eateries, and writing progress. Dexter is such a frustrating character, seemingly having it all, but not knowing what to do with it. The structure of the story, with snapshots of their yearly progress or lack of same, is a fascinating narrative of young people, getting older and in some ways wiser. Emma maintains the sense of realism, of an awareness of reality, throughout the novel. Dexter, on the other hand, in many ways lives the dream, but does not realise until the end what he has , and what he loses throughout the book. I think that it is in some ways a cruel ending, certainly sad, but there is a sense that at least one character comes to a greater understanding of themselves and relationships.

It is a well written book, developing a set of themes of love, loss, self knowledge, respect for others, and much more. I enjoyed the style of writing, and it is quite and achievement to encapsulate the events, atmosphere and feelings of twenty years in two lives. Many other realistic characters also emerge, though some are more like necessary sketches. I particularly like the theatre company near the beginning of the book, with the wannabe star, the fading actor and the reception that the play gets from the audiences. There were times when I felt Emma’s frustrations with her lousy jobs, and felt like cheering when she finds some measure of success and love. Dexter is a little more two dimensional, but we have met characters like him. This is an immensely readable story, memorable for all the right reasons, and a strong popular book for many people. I would recommend it to anyone who has struggled to find their feet in turn of the century Britain, though it is, in some ways, a sad book.

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