Monday, July 02, 2012

One Day by David Nicholls: A Modern Day Love Story


If you haven’t heard of David Nicholls’ award winning One Day, the chances are you may have been living under a rock for the last three years. Not only has it been made into a motion picture but it has been translated into 31 languages, appearing on best seller lists throughout the world and becoming the highest selling novel of 2010.

The beauty of the novel is its unique format. The story opens on July 15th 1988 as two students, Emma and Dexter, wake up together on their last day of university. This encounter marks the beginning of a special friendship which the reader revisits on this date for the next twenty years. Amidst births, deaths, relationships, careers and the various other twists and turns their respective lives take, Em and Dex maintain a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ relationship that keeps the reader guessing throughout.

But aside from the clever structure, Nicholls presents us with two characters that are intrinsically loveable, relatable and impossible not to care about. Dexter is good looking and charismatic but arrogant and lazy whereas Emma is ambitious and hardworking but stroppy and full of self doubt. Nicholls achieves the difficult task of making them feel real to us and many readers will probably find they know an Emma or a Dexter in their lives.

Their bumbling romance is as flawed and complex as their personalities and Nicholls plays on this in order to present the reader with a realistic, complicated love story. Comedy and honesty replaces over-the-top, gushy sentiment but this somehow makes their romance all the more touching and has enabled Nicholls to write a novel that appeals to the masses.

Both men and women love this novel because ultimately it is a believable account of a modern day love story that is told in heart-warming yet funny way. Nicholls, therefore, has succeeded in creating a romantic novel that has hit the mainstream market without abandoning creditability or intelligence.

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Francine Westbrook is a freelance writer from England who covers literature and textbooks for a number of student blogs and education websites.
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