Monday Review: One Day by David Nicholls

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Back to blogging! This time from Paris.

Since One Day’s screen version came out in August 2011, and the book appeared everywhere, I’d been making a conscious effort to have nothing to do with it. Neither the film nor the novel. From all descriptions I had heard, it sounded as if Nicholas Sparks had re-written the Before Sunrise trilogy. Sacrilege, I know. Sacrilege, cheese and tears.

I changed my mind one day, namely the 15th of July (that’s significant, you’ll soon learn why), when I found myself in an airplane with nothing to read, stuck this time between a curt type browsing Playboy and a sweet lady who, seeing my despair, offered me her esoteric magazine. Opposite, I could see some lucky girl engrossed in a book. Oh how I envied her! Upon arrival, I decided to have what she had and got myself a copy of – you guessed – One Day by David Nicholls. (Psychologists must have a name for that kind of effect –care to educate me, anyone?)

Need another proof that "movie covers" suck?

Need another proof that “movie covers” suck?

What happened next? I quickly opened it  –  avoiding looking at the very Sparksesque cover – and instantly felt like apologizing for my two-year-long hostility. In a moment ’ll explain why, but first let’s get back to the basics.

The concept is this: describing one day, the 15th of July (who doesn’t love a good coincidence!), in the life of two people. Every year, for 20 years. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the pair, being a proto-hipster, idealist girl with no self-confidence, and a happy-go-lucky guy with too much of it. They’re friends, not without benefits, and they live their pretty standard, middle-class lives of flatmates, paydays, heartbreak, weddings, tacos and gradually getting fat.

So what makes reading this book about everyone’s day-to-day so good it’s more interesting than actually living it? Well-written is the word (two words, whatever, I don’t count when I’m on holiday). There’s no hair-raising story here, no groundbreaking truths; just a couple of next-door characters you really like, super-smart but still plausible dialogue, and an incredibly smooth narration. No pretension, no corniness. More Before Sunrise than feel-good chic lit.

One Day is a genre-defying novel that neatly mixes comedy and drama –much like life, just quicker. You can, indeed, go through these 20 years in just one, very pleasant day. Not necessarily the 15 of July.

Now that I like the book, I’m even more scared to watch the film. Anyone seen it? Is it any good?

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2 thoughts on “Monday Review: One Day by David Nicholls

  1. Very nice review! I completely agree! I always refuse to buy books with the ‘movie covers’. I like originals. I loved this book! It was so easy to read and I told friends who had seen the film NOT to tell me how it ended under any circumstances so the ending was actually a complete surprise for me. I started watching the film once I’d read the book but not 3 minutes in, I switched off – it’s just not the same when you’ve imagined it all in your head when you’ve been reading. Apparently it’s a good film but the moment the first scene came on the screen it just wasn’t the same. This book is one of my favourites! Thoroughly recommend!

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