Summer Reading – One Day

One Day by David Nicholls

So, it turns out I was already a bit of a fan of David Nicholls before I read this book, but I didn’t quite realize it. He wrote another coming-of-age sort of novel called Starter for 10 which was made into a movie with James MacAvoy (whom I had a brief but passionate crush on). So I saw that movie a few years ago. I’m not sure if I saw the trailer for One Day first or saw the book first… I can’t quite remember. But as soon as I knew the premise I was hooked on the idea. The characters meet on July 15th (in the late 80s, the year changes from the book to the movie), the last night of their college years. Each subsequent chapter is set on that day the next year. Twenty years of July 15th’s combine to make quite a unique way to tell a story. Especially since Nicholls wasn’t too bothered with contriving ways for Dexter and Emma (the main characters) to always spend time with each other on that day.

I read the novel the first day and a half we were at the beach. I finished it Sunday afternoon and I put me in a serious funk. The ending was so wonderfully tragic that I had one of those “I’ll never write anything this real and sad” moments. I moved on, but my, oh my did I love what this novel was able to make me feel. There were so many wonderful moments of prose. Nicholls has this singular way of describing moments in his novel that seem absurd but make absolute sense. He describes the younger Emma’s struggle with flirting like “having a conversation on roller skates, full of stops and starts”. I was completely wrapped up in the novel as I read it. When the dread of realizing that I was nearing the end began to grow in my stomach I was able to briefly distract myself with the fact that I had EIGHT other books with me at the beach. However, I can confidently say this was my favourite of the week.

I went to see the movie version yesterday. I’ve read a few reviews of it. One which lambasted Anne’s  affected Yorkshire accent. It’s from a British news source and the author of the article made at least one valid complaint: that this clearly British role went to an American actress seems a bit strange. However, Hathaway has made a career of transforming from a frumpy every-day girl to the chicest, glamourous princess (Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, etc.) and the argument that she isn’t believable as “frumpy” seemed a bit played out to me. A realistically frumpy person is not very likely to be a great actress, and no one really likes to look at frumpy people. So it’s a bit of a moot argument.

Since I’m American and think anything similar to crisp diction sounds vaguely English I wasn’t much bothered by her accent (though at times I did notice it was rather more guttural than other times). I was honestly more bothered by Jim Sturgess’ terrible wigs. The whole book to movie thing is always tricky. I fully understand. I was a little surprised by the fact that Nicholls worked on the screenplay as well (that’s not typical). I think they did an amazing job of showing you the years and making the time cues believable. Both in the book and movie Nicholls did a fantastic job of using era as a setting. At one time Emma even sports “The Rachel“.

I thoroughly enjoyed both the book and movie. The book was great. I want to own it (if someone wants to buy it for me, I’ll take it). Anyway, if you enjoy a good little romantic novel check this one out.

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