Published by Vintage Contemporaries
Trade paperback $14.95
British author David Nicholls' novel One Day begins on July 15, 1988 with two university students in Edinburgh, Dexter and Emma, sharing an evening of drink and sex. Dex is from a wealthy family, Emma is not. Dex is handsome, but not overly ambitious, and Emma, not the type of girl who captures men's attention when she walks in the room, is, as Dex says, "is one of those girls who used 'bourgeois' as a term of abuse".
The novel follows Dex and Emma for the next twenty years on the date of July 15th. We watch as they become good friends, but not more than that, although at certain points in time each fancies the other romantically- just not, it seems, at the same time.
Dex becomes a successful television presenter, making good money, dating lots of hot women, drinking way too much, but it's a shallow life. Emma is less successful personally and professionally. The one constant in their lives is their friendship. When they are together, they become more than the sum of their parts, if only they realized it.
As Dex gets older, his looks fade and he is no longer the 'golden boy'. He marries a wealthy woman, but is he happy? Emma's life gets better after she ends a relationship that is not suited to her. She gets a job as a teacher and works on writing a novel.
Nicholls brilliantly captures these two people, and their relationship is one that will be recognizable to many people. He is not afraid to make Dex downright unlikeable much of time, yet he gets us to root for Dex to be a better man. Our heart breaks for Emma, and we just want to see her get the life and love she deserves.
One Day is the kind of book you don't fall in love with right away; it slowly seduces you until you realize by the end how deeply you have fallen in love with it. Dex and Emma will at times infuriate you, make you laugh and break your heart, but you will not forget them, nor will you forget the heartrending end of this near perfect novel.
Rating 4.5 of 5