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Description

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NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE starring ANNE HATHAWAY and JIM STURGESS

It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.


"One of the most hilarious and emotionally riveting love stories you''ll ever encounter." — People

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

From Publishers Weekly

The Hollywood-ready latest from Nicholls ( The Understudy) makes a brief pit stop in book form before its inevitable film adaptation. (It''s already in development.) The episodic story takes place during a single day each year for two decades in the lives of Dex and Em. Dexter, the louche public school boy, and Emma, the brainy Yorkshire lass, meet the day they graduate from university in 1988 and run circles around one another for the next 20 years. Dex becomes a TV presenter whose life of sex, booze, and drugs spins out of control, while Em dully slogs her way through awful jobs before becoming the author of young adult books. They each take other lovers and spouses, but they cannot really live without each other. Nicholls is a glib, clever writer, and while the formulaic feel and maudlin ending aren''t ideal for a book, they''ll play in the multiplex. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"[An] instant classic. . . . One of the most hilarious and emotionally riveting love stories you’ll ever encounter." — People

“Big, absorbing, smart, fantastically readable." —Nick Hornby, from his blog
 
"[Nicholls] has a gift for zeitgeist description and emotional empathy that''s wholly his own. . . . [A] light but surprisingly deep romance so thoroughly satisfying." — Entertainment Weekly

“Nicholls offers sharp dialogue and wry insight that sounds like Nick Hornby at his best.” — The Daily Beast (A Best Book of the Summer)

"Fluid, expertly paced, highly observed, and at times, both funny and moving." — Boston Globe

"Those of us susceptible to nostalgic reveries of youthful heartache and self-invention (which is to say, all of us) longed to get our hands on Nicholls’s new novel. . . . And if you do, you may want to take care where you lay this book down. You may not be the only one who wants in on the answers." — New York Times Book Review

"Who doesn’t relish a love story with the right amount of heart-melting romance, disappointment, regret, and huge doses of disenchantment about growing up and growing old between quarreling meant-to-be lovers?" — Elle, Top 10 Summer Books for 2010

“A great, funny, and heart-breaking read.” — The Early Show [CBS]

"Funny, sweet and completely engrossing . . . The friendship at the heart of this novel is best expressed within the pitch-perfect dialogue/banter between the two." — Very Short List

“A wonderful, wonderful book: wise, funny, perceptive, compassionate and often unbearably sad . . . the best British social novel since Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up!. . . . Nicholls’s witty prose has a transparency that brings Nick Hornby to mind: it melts as you read it so that you don’t notice all the hard work that it’s doing.” — The Times (London)
 
“Just as Nicholls has made full use of his central concept, so he has drawn on all his comic and literary gifts to produce a novel that is not only roaringly funny but also memorable, moving and, in its own unassuming, unpretentious way, rather profound.” — The Guardian (London)

About the Author

David Nicholls trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. He is the author of two previous novels— Starter For Ten and The Understudy. He has also written many screenplays for film and television, including the feature film adaptation of Starter For Ten. He lives in London.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER ONE
''THE FUTURE''

Friday 15TH July 1988
Rankeillor Street, Edinburgh

''I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference,'' she said. ''You know, actually change something.''
     ''What, like "change the world", you mean?''
     ''Not the whole entire world. Just the little bit around you.''
     They lay in silence for a moment, bodies curled around each other in the single bed, then both began to laugh in low, pre-dawn voices. ''Can''t believe I just said that,'' she groaned. ''Sounds a bit corny, doesn''t it?''
     ''A bit corny.''
     ''I''m trying to be inspiring! I''m trying to lift your grubby soul for the great adventure that lies ahead of you.'' She turned to face him. ''Not that you need it. I expect you''ve got your future nicely mapped out, ta very much. Probably got a little flow-chart somewhere or something.''
     ''Hardly.''
     ''So what''re you going to do then? What''s the great plan?''
     ''Well, my parents are going to pick up my stuff, dump it at theirs, then I''ll spend a couple of days in their flat in London, see some friends. Then France-''
     ''Very nice-''
     ''Then China maybe, see what that''s all about, then maybe onto India, travel around there for a bit-''
     '' Traveling,'' she sighed. ''So predictable.''
     ''What''s wrong with travelling?''
     ''Avoiding reality more like.''
     ''I think reality is over-rated,'' he said in the hope that this might come across as dark and charismatic.
     She sniffed. ''S''alright, I suppose, for those who can afford it. Why not just say "I''m going on holiday for two years"? It''s the same thing.''
     ''Because travel broadens the mind,'' he said, rising onto one elbow and kissing her.
     ''Oh I think you''re probably a bit too broad-minded as it is,'' she said, turning her face away, for the moment at least. They settled again on the pillow. ''Anyway, I didn''t mean what are you doing next month, I meant the future-future, when you''re, I don''t know...'' She paused, as if conjuring up some fantastical idea, like a fifth dimension. ''... Forty or something. What do you want to be when you''re forty?''
     ''Forty?'' He too seemed to be struggling with the concept. ''Don''t know. Am I allowed to say "rich"?''
     ''Just so, so shallow.''
     ''Alright then, "famous".'' He began to nuzzle at her neck. ''Bit morbid, this, isn''t it?''
     ''It''s not morbid, it''s...exciting.''
     '' ''Exciting!'' '' He was imitating her voice now, her soft Yorkshire accent, trying to make her sound daft. She got this a lot, posh boys doing funny voices, as if there was something unusual and quaint about an accent, and not for the first time she felt a reassuring shiver of dislike for him. She shrugged herself away until her back was pressed against the cool of the wall.
     ''Yes, exciting. We''re meant to be excited, aren''t we? All those possibilities. It''s like the Vice-Chancellor said, "the doors of opportunity flung wide..."''
     ''"Yours are the names in tomorrow''s newspapers..."''
     '' Not very likely.''
     ''So, what, are you excited then?''
     ''Me? God no, I''m crapping myself.''
     ''Me too. Christ...'' He turned suddenly and reached for the cigarettes on the floor by the side of the bed, as if to steady his nerves. ''Forty years old. Forty. Fucking hell.''
     Smiling at his anxiety, she decided to make it worse. ''So what''ll you be doing when you''re forty?''
     He lit his cigarette thoughtfully. ''Well the thing is, Em-''
     ''"Em"? Who''s "Em"?''
     ''People call you Em. I''ve heard them.''
     ''Yeah, friends call me Em.''
     ''So can I call you Em?''
     ''Go on then, Dex.''
     ''So I''ve given this whole "growing old" thing some thought and I''ve come to the decision that I''d like to stay exactly as I am right now.''
     Dexter Mayhew. She peered up at him through her fringe as he leant against the cheap buttoned vinyl headboard and even without her spectacles on it was clear why he might want to stay exactly this way. Eyes closed, the cigarette glued languidly to his lower lip, the dawn light warming the side of his face through the red filter of the curtains, he had the knack of looking perpetually posed for a photograph. Emma Morley thought ''handsome'' a silly, nineteenth-century word, but there really was no other word for it, except perhaps ''beautiful''. He had one of those faces where you were aware of the bones beneath the skin, as if even his bare skull would be attractive. A fine nose, slightly shiny with grease, and dark skin beneath the eyes that looked almost bruised, a badge of honour from all the smoking and late nights spent deliberately losing at strip poker with girls from Bedales. There was something feline about him: eyebrows fine, mouth pouty in a self-conscious way, lips a shade too dark and full, but dry and chapped now, and rouged with Bulgarian red wine. Gratifyingly his hair was terrible, short at the back and sides, but with an awful little quiff at the front. Whatever gel he used had worn off, and now the quiff looked pert and fluffy, like a silly little hat.
     Still with his eyes closed, he exhaled smoke through his nose. Clearly he knew he was being looked at because he tucked one hand beneath his armpit, bunching up his pectorals and biceps. Where did the muscles come from? Certainly not sporting activity, unless you counted skinny- dipping and playing pool. Probably it was just the kind of good health that was passed down in the family, along with the stocks and shares and the good furniture. Handsome then, or beautiful even, with his paisley boxer shorts pulled down to his hip bones and somehow here in her single bed in her tiny rented room at the end of four years of college. ''Handsome''! Who do you think you are, Jane Eyre? Grow up. Be sensible. Don''t get carried away.
     She plucked the cigarette from his mouth. ''I can imagine you at forty,'' she said, a hint of malice in her voice. ''I can picture it right now.''
     He smiled without opening his eyes. ''Go on then.''
     ''Alright-'' She shuffled up the bed, the duvet tucked beneath her armpits. ''You''re in this sports car with the roof down in Kensington or Chelsea or one of those places and the amazing thing about this car is it''s silent, ''cause all the cars''ll be silent in, I don''t know, what - 2006?''
     He scrunched his eyes to do the sum. ''2004-''
     ''And this car is hovering six inches off the ground down the King''s Road and you''ve got this little paunch tucked under the leather steering wheel like a little pillow and those backless gloves on, thinning hair and no chin. You''re a big man in a small car with a tan like a basted turkey-''
     ''So shall we change the subject then?''
     ''And there''s this woman next to you in sunglasses, your third, no, fourth wife, very beautiful, a model, no, an ex-model, twenty-three, you met her while she was draped on the bonnet of a car at a motor- show in Nice or something, and she''s stunning and thick as shit-''
      ''Well that''s nice. Any kids?''
      ''No kids, just three divorces, and it''s a Friday in July and you''re heading off to some house in the country and in the tiny boot of your hover car are tennis racquets and croquet mallets and a hamper full of fine wines and South African grapes and poor little quails and asparagus and the wind''s in your widow''s peak and you''re feeling very, very pleased with yourself and wife number three, four, whatever, smiles at you with about two hundred shiny white teeth and you smile back and try not to think about the fact that you have nothing, absolutely nothing, to say to each other.''
      She came to an abrupt halt. You sound insane, she told herself. Do try not to sound insane. ''Course if it''s any consolation we''ll all be dead in a nuclear war long before then!'' she said brightly, but still he was frowning at her.
      ''Maybe I should go then. If I''m so shallow and corrupt-''
      ''No, don''t go,'' she said, a little too quickly. ''It''s four in the morning.''
      He shuffled up the bed until his face was a few inches from hers. ''I don''t know where you get this idea of me, you barely know me.''
      ''I know the type.''
      ''The type?''
      ''I''ve seen you, hanging round Modern Languages, braying at each other, throwing black-tie dinner parties-''
      ''I don''t even own black-tie. And I certainly don''t bray-''
      ''Yachting your way round the Med in the long hols, ra ra ra-''
      ''So if I''m so awful-'' His hand was on her hip now.
      ''-which you are.''
      ''-then why are you sleeping with me?'' His hand was on the warm soft flesh of her thigh.
      ''Actually I don''t think I have slept with you, have I?''
''Well that depends.'' He leant in and kissed her. ''Define your terms.'' His hand was on the base of her spine, his leg slipping between hers.
      ''By the way,'' she mumbled, her mouth pressed against his.
      ''What?'' He felt her leg snake around his, pulling him closer.
      ''You need to brush your teeth.''
      ''I don''t mind if you don''t.''
      ''S''really horrible,'' she laughed. ''You taste of wine and fags.''
      ''Well that''s alright then. So do you.''
      Her head snapped away, breaking off the kiss. ''Do I?''
      ''I don''t mind. I like wine and fags.''
      ''Won''t be a sec.'' She flung the duvet back, clambering over him.
      ''Where are you going now?'' He placed his hand on her bare back.
      ''Just the bog,'' she said, retrieving her spectacles from the pile of books by the bed: large, black NHS frames, standard issue.
      ''The "bog", the "bog"...sorry I''m not familiar...''
      She stood, one arm across her chest, careful to keep her back to him. ''Don''t go away,'' she said, padding out of the room, hooking two fingers into the elastic of her underpants to pull the material down at the top of her thighs. ''And no playing with yourself while I''m gone.''
      He exhaled through his nose and shuffled up the bed, taking in the shabby rented room, knowing with absolute confidence that somewhere in amongst the art postcards and photocopied posters for angry plays there would be a photograph of Nelson Mandela, like some dreamy ideal boyfriend. In his last four years he had seen any number of bedrooms like this, dotted round the city like crime scenes, rooms where you were never more than six feet from a Nina Simone album, and though he''d rarely seen the same bedroom twice, it was all too familiar. The burnt out nightlights and desolate pot plants, the smell of washing powder on cheap, ill-fitting sheets. She had that arty girl''s passion for photomontage too; flash-lit snaps of college friends and family jumbled in amongst the Chagalls and Vermeers and Kandinskys, the Che Guevaras and Woody Allens and Samuel Becketts. Nothing here was neutral, everything displayed an allegiance or a point of view. The room was a manifesto, and with a sigh Dexter recognised her as one of those girls who used ''bourgeois'' as a term of abuse. He could understand why ''fascist'' might have negative connotations, but he liked the word ''bourgeois'' and all that it implied. Security, travel, nice food, good manners, ambition; what was he meant to be apologising for?
      He watched the smoke curl from his mouth. Feeling for an ashtray, he found a book at the side of the bed. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, spine creased at the ''erotic'' bits. The problem with these fiercely individualistic girls was that they were all exactly the same. Another book: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Silly bloody fool, he thought, confident that it was not a mistake he would ever make.
      At twenty-three, Dexter Mayhew''s vision of his future was no clearer than Emma Morley''s. He hoped to be successful, to make his parents proud and to sleep with more than one woman at the same time, but how to make these all compatible? He wanted to feature in magazine articles, and hoped one day for a retrospective of his work, without having any clear notion of what that work might be. He wanted to live life to the extreme, but without any mess or complications. He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph. Things should look right. Fun; there should be a lot of fun and no more sadness than absolutely necessary.
      It wasn''t much of a plan, and already there had been mistakes. Tonight, for instance, was bound to have repercussions: tears and awkward phone-calls and accusations. He should probably get out of here as soon as possible, and he glanced at his discarded clothes in preparation for his escape. From the bathroom came the warning rattle and bang of an ancient toilet cistern, and he hurriedly replaced the book, finding beneath the bed a small yellow Colman''s mustard tin that he flipped open to confirm that, yes, it did contain condoms, along with the small grey remains of a joint, like a mouse dropping. With the possibility of sex and drugs in a small yellow tin he felt hopeful again, and decided that he might stay a little longer at least.

      In the bathroom, Emma Morley wiped the crescents of toothpaste from the corner of her mouth and wondered if this was all a terrible mistake. Here she was, after four romantically barren years, finally, finally in bed with someone she really liked, had liked since she''d first seen him at a party in 1984, and in just a few hours he''d be gone. Forever probably. He was hardly likely to ask her to go to China with him, and besides she was boycotting China. And he was alright, wasn''t he? Dexter Mayhew. In truth she suspected he wasn''t all that bright, and a little too pleased with himself, but he was popular and funny and - no point fighting it - very handsome. So why was she being so stroppy and sarcastic? Why couldn''t she just be self-confident and fun, like those scrubbed, bouncy girls he usually hung around with? She saw the dawn light at the tiny bathroom window. Sobriety. Scratching at her awful hair with her fingertips, she pulled a face, then yanked the chain of the ancient toilet cistern and headed back into the room.

      From the bed, Dexter watched her appear in the doorway, wearing the gown and mortar board that they''d been obliged to hire for the graduation ceremony, her leg hooked mock-seductively around the doorframe, her rolled degree certificate in one hand. She peered over her spectacles and pulled the mortar board down low over one eye. ''What d''you think?''
      ''Suits you. I like the jaunty angle. Now take it off and come back to bed.''

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4.2 out of 54.2 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Nicole D.Top Contributor: Baby
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A tale of longing & loneliness cleverly disguised as a story of love & friendship. Not at all what I expected.
Reviewed in the United States on April 1, 2016
Last year, I got hooked on listening to audiobooks during my commute. So, I''ve been trolling Amazon for "reading" material ever since. I had remembered seeing the trailer for One Day when it came out a few years back as a movie starring Anne Hathaway. I recalled... See more
Last year, I got hooked on listening to audiobooks during my commute. So, I''ve been trolling Amazon for "reading" material ever since. I had remembered seeing the trailer for One Day when it came out a few years back as a movie starring Anne Hathaway. I recalled that it looked sweet and that I wanted to see it at the time. I never did, needless to say, or I probably wouldn''t have bought the audiobook.

Anyway, this was not at all what I expected. The format is pretty unique. The author (David Nicholls) gives you a snapshot of the two lead characters - Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley - on a single day each year for about a 20-year period. It''s interesting to see where they are in life - with each other, other friends, family, careers, other relationships, etc. I was very quickly drawn to the unconventional, but very sweet bond that Em & Dex seemed to have with one another. I think this was one thing that really had me hooked early on.

I actually quite liked the audiobook for the first several discs I listened to (it''s something like 16 hours in total for the unabridged version). Nicholls does a great job giving the characters wit, charm and personality. I was very quickly hooked on the story and practically looked for excuses to run to the store or go out to pick up dinner so I could listen! That''s kind of pathetic, I know. I was not quite halfway done with the audiobook when I decided I couldn''t wait to spend 8-10 more hours in the car before knowing what happened. So, I decided to rent the movie to watch on a lazy weekend day. This was both a terrible mistake and a great idea. On one hand, I was quite impressed at how closely the movie stayed with the book. That rarely happens, but there were only two small parts that I noticed that had changed only slightly. And, I mean these were VERY MINOR parts. Of course, the movie had to cut out about 2/3 of the book which really diluted the quality; but overall it was a pretty close depiction of what Nicholls put on paper. I was NOT EXPECTING what happens toward the last couple sections of the book. I was glad that I watched the movie, because I may have actually wrecked my car if I''d heard that unexpectedly while driving. Watching the movie also made me hate the story in a way, because it was not what I wanted or what I expected for these characters. I almost didn''t finish the audiobook, because I didn''t want to waste my time building up to a conclusion that I hated. But, I did. It was just as depressing and upsetting as I had expected, but I was prepared for it. So, that was good, I suppose.

All in all, this is a book that I expected to be a sweet tale of friendship, love and relationships. And, on the surface for the first 1/4 or so of the book, it seems to be just this. BUT... given that the author is showing you a glimpse of their lives for ONE DAY a year for such a long period of time. When you think of it, it really is a depressing tale of longing, loneliness and possibly a life wasted not going after what you truly want. I prefer either horrible crime / mystery books or romantic love stories. I don''t like when the two intermix. I''m not one to prefer a surprise ending to a book like this, but maybe that''s just me. David Nicholls, if you''re reading this... you''re an extremely talented writer. But, DON''T EVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN! :)

To sum everything up... don''t bother with the movie because it''s depressing, leaves out way too much and it will probably leave you angry (like it did me!). If you like a sweet story and don''t mind some unexpected twists and turns, then you''ll probably really like this book. If you happen to do audiobooks, the narrator for this one is fantastic. She speaks with an English accent, which was a little distracting for me at first only because I''m not used to hearing the accent. But, after the first 10 minutes or so, all my thoughts were suddenly floating around my head with a charming little accent, and I was basically expecting everyone around me to sound like Kate Middleton when they spoke. So, don''t let that bother you. I give the narrator huge props, though. She does an amazing and seamless job swapping between all the different characters. And, somehow, her male voices don''t sound like a girl trying to speak in a man''s voice. They are VERY natural, which made for an amazing audiobook experience.

I just finished this yesterday, so I still don''t know how I feel about it. I hated some of the things that happened, and was not pleased at all with the ending. But, I was very delighted and entertained at many parts throughout. So, if you''re an avid reader and haven''t picked this one up... maybe go for it? If you prefer something more predictable and upbeat (i.e., without any depressing undertones), skip it.
35 people found this helpful
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Anonymous
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
What a wonderful book
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2019
One review I read about this book said that it is pretty polarizing; that people will either love or hate this book. I can definitely understand that and believe it to be true. I’m in the “love it” camp. The author really captured for me what it is like to be in each of... See more
One review I read about this book said that it is pretty polarizing; that people will either love or hate this book. I can definitely understand that and believe it to be true. I’m in the “love it” camp. The author really captured for me what it is like to be in each of the stages of life that these characters are in. From young adulthood, feeling sort of like you’re still a kid but you have all this newfound freedom that you don’t know what to do with, to the late 20s when you start to become tired of partying every night, to getting married and having a new baby and having absolutely no idea what you’re doing, to late 30s (where I am now) and feeling like a certified adult finally but also a little lost and wistful for the years gone by. He captures it all, perfectly, in my opinion at least.

There’s no real “point” to the book that I could tell, no grand message that you have to read between the lines to find. But for me, it just makes a statement about life, how wonderful it can be if you let it, and reminds me to live it to the fullest every day, and to not take for granted the people I love most.
7 people found this helpful
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Victor the Reader
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
One Day (My Kindle Review)
Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2021
In this unique story, we follow the bonding relationship of Emma and Dexter from the late 80’s to the mid 2000s after their first date. Emma is someone who tries to find a successful life despite failing at it, while Dexter is a drinker and womanizer who tries to find a... See more
In this unique story, we follow the bonding relationship of Emma and Dexter from the late 80’s to the mid 2000s after their first date. Emma is someone who tries to find a successful life despite failing at it, while Dexter is a drinker and womanizer who tries to find a successful tv career but is unable to hold on to it because of his behavior. Despite their on-and-off infatuation for one another, they still find comfort in their company for each other, even when they have their own lives that focus on marriage, dating and personal troubles.

Not completely a touching romantic tale, but a slightly humorous one about loneliness and companionship. Emma definitely is the most likable while Dexter will kinda get on your nerves half of the time, but will almost be tolerable. The final part was a bit harsh and sudden to me, but still brings this story to a bittersweet end. <b>B+ (83%/Very Good)</b>
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GoodEgg
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Poignant
Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2020
I truly enjoyed this book. You couldn''t find two more disparate main characters. Both were unlikeable and yet likeable in their each unique way. Flew through it and was so confounded by the ending (in a good way) I wanted to read it again (and I did). The film captures... See more
I truly enjoyed this book. You couldn''t find two more disparate main characters. Both were unlikeable and yet likeable in their each unique way. Flew through it and was so confounded by the ending (in a good way) I wanted to read it again (and I did). The film captures some of the feelings of the book, but you really have to read it to fully enjoy it, I think. I feel totally vindicated trying to read new books when one of this caliber comes along. I definitely recommend!
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Larry Hoffer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Yes, this book made me cry. I still loved it.
Reviewed in the United States on August 12, 2012
My name is Larry Hoffer and I am an absolute sap. Seriously. I get teary-eyed when people win sports championships or awards; even some songs and television commercials make me cry. And so while it shouldn''t come as a complete surprise to me, David Nicholls'' terrific book,... See more
My name is Larry Hoffer and I am an absolute sap. Seriously. I get teary-eyed when people win sports championships or awards; even some songs and television commercials make me cry. And so while it shouldn''t come as a complete surprise to me, David Nicholls'' terrific book, One Day made me sob. I mean, I came completely unhinged. Egads.

Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew connect at a party the night they graduate from college in Edinburgh. Dexter is good-looking, popular and privileged, fairly unaware of the world around him except where it directly affects him; Emma, of middle class origins, considers herself to be a bit non-conformist, although she has had a bit of a crush on Dexter throughout college. They nearly sleep together, but spend about a day and a half in each other''s company. And this sets in motion a connection that spans nearly 20 years. One Day follows the peaks and valleys of Dexter and Emma''s relationship on the same day--July 15--each year. Sometimes they''re close friends; sometimes they''re not. Sometimes one is romantically involved while the other isn''t. Sometimes one experiences career success while the other struggles. One of the characters refers to Emma and Dexter as "Harry and Sally," and there is definitely elements of that film relationship in theirs. But the book is funny, thought-provoking, emotionally charged and even a little maudlin from time to time, especially if you''re a sap.

This is a book about love, in many forms--friendship, romance, sexual attraction, marriage, parent/child relationships, unrequited crushes, etc. As Emma says at one point, "Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance." The book may be a bit predictable at times, and sometimes the characters aren''t completely likeable, but I found this tremendously compelling and gripping. It has been optioned into a movie, and as much as I hate most film adaptations of books I love, I will definitely need to see this one, because much as its main characters felt about each other, this book has gotten hold of my heart. If you''re a romantic--or just a sap like me--read this book.
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Viola Chen
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Two people just fumbling through life
Reviewed in the United States on August 29, 2011
On July 15, 1988, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew spend the night together after their graduation from University. Their whole lives are ahead of them, lives full of potential, promise, and hope. Each chapter captures a snapshot of their lives on that day, St. Swithin''s Day,... See more
On July 15, 1988, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew spend the night together after their graduation from University. Their whole lives are ahead of them, lives full of potential, promise, and hope. Each chapter captures a snapshot of their lives on that day, St. Swithin''s Day, each year for twenty years. Unfortunately, the significance of this day is completely lost on American readers. According to the folklore as stated on Wikipedia, whatever the weather is on St. Swithin''s Day will continue for the next forty days. I suppose Groundhog''s Day would be the American analogue. It''s a day that symbolizes how life can swing in either direction - sunny or rainy, spring or winter.

The appeal of this novel is its fresh and unique format - revisiting two people on the same day each year over twenty years. How would their lives change year to year? How would the characters develop over time? How would their relationship progress? And more interestingly, what kind of creative storytelling could the author accomplish?

Aside from the format, it''s surprisingly difficult to describe what this book is about. I''ve read reviews that characterize it as a love story; it is not. I''ve read reviews that liken it to "When Harry Met Sally", again it is not. If you go into this book with such notions, you''ll be sorely disappointed. Yes, the novel has some romantic undertones but characterizing it as a love story will create certain expectations that may go unrealized. It''s about two people, who happen to be friends, fumbling through their twenties and thirties. The author is quite good at portraying the simultaneous feelings of earnest hopefulness and terrifying aimlessness that characterizes the experience of many young adults today. Neither Emma nor Dexter knows what to do with the blank canvases that they were given. They don''t seem to know what they want out of life, whether that is on a professional level or on a personal level.

Nicholls gives us a great set up. Emma Morley is a smart, idealistic girl from a working-class family who isn''t afraid to boycott or protest for certain causes. Dexter Mayhew is a privileged playboy who parties just a little too much. Through their friendship, Emma always brings out the best in Dexter, but I''m not quite sure what he does for her. These initial character sketches are believable, realistic, and charming. However, as the novel progresses, the characters, especially Dexter, become tiresome. As a novel that relies so heavily on two people, it has no choice but to be a character-driven book. And unfortunately, it is the character development that is lacking in this book. To be fair, Emma''s character undergoes a satisfactory transformation. It is Dexter''s character that is dreadful. He is a good-looking, spoiled drunk with too much money on his hands. I get it, but then, I got tired of it. I kept waiting for Dexter to hit rock bottom so that he could rise. Instead, he just bounced around the bottom without ever redeeming himself. Many recent college graduates feel lost and without direction. I get that. But does it really take twenty years to get your act together? And even then, I''m not entirely convinced that Dexter ever did.

The novel is easy to read; it doesn''t take long to breeze through the chapters. The pacing is steady at a brisk medium speed. The author sometimes takes advantage of the format by building suspense about what might happen on the very next day, July 16th, only to jump ahead a full year in the following chapter. This is fun. Also, the dialogue between the two main characters is a pleasure to read. Their casual banter is playful and perfectly expresses their closeness, familiarity, and comfort with each other. Most of this book is funny and light while a few parts are serious and dark. All in all, it''s not a bad book, it just could have been so much better.
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Elizabeth A. KochTop Contributor: Sewing
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wonderful
Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2021
I chose this book because I just finished reading "Us" by the same author. I don''t read a lot of fiction, but after reading two of his books, I''ve become a big fan of David Nicholls. I love his writing style and he has a great storytelling ability. This isn''t a "romance"... See more
I chose this book because I just finished reading "Us" by the same author. I don''t read a lot of fiction, but after reading two of his books, I''ve become a big fan of David Nicholls. I love his writing style and he has a great storytelling ability. This isn''t a "romance" story, but rather a "friendship" story which spans decades and rings very true. I loved this book.
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ALR
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A smart, funny, and realistic read
Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2014
This was such a wonderful book, funny and meaningful and smart and emotional. A character-driven story about two people, Emma and Dexter, it focuses on their lives and relationship over a span of twenty years. The format was really original - each chapter taking place on... See more
This was such a wonderful book, funny and meaningful and smart and emotional. A character-driven story about two people, Emma and Dexter, it focuses on their lives and relationship over a span of twenty years. The format was really original - each chapter taking place on July 15th of a particular year - and I thought that worked really well and set the story apart from other contemporary romances.

What I liked most about it was how real the characters and the story felt. Emma and Dexter were flawed yet completely relatable, dealing with what ever life threw at them, sometimes with grace but most often by making mistakes and figuring things out the hard way, just like the rest of us. Their relationship was realistic, too, far from perfect yet always something I was rooting for. They are friends for most of the book, and despite their differences, worked well with each other. That being said, I do wish a little more time was spent on them when they were in a romantic relationship, because that was what I was waiting for the majority of the book.

The writing was excellent, very insightful, perceptive, and usually humorous. The dialogue was also noteworthy, some of the best I''ve ever read.

I don''t like surprises, so I read spoilers about the ending, which I think helped me appreciate the book more. The ending was realistic, bittersweet, and I thought it fit in well with the overall tone of the book and what Nicholls was trying to get across. All in all, I definitely recommend this book!
2 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

James Roberts
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Readers will either love or hate this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 8, 2016
Readers will either love or hate this book, I don’t think it there is much of a middle road with this one. It will speak to those with similar personal experiences. I enjoyed the format. It gives the reader snapshots of Dex and Em’s life, like flipping through a stack of...See more
Readers will either love or hate this book, I don’t think it there is much of a middle road with this one. It will speak to those with similar personal experiences. I enjoyed the format. It gives the reader snapshots of Dex and Em’s life, like flipping through a stack of Polaroids, just a flash of what was going on at a particular time. Picking the same day established a sequence and highlighted that life and circumstances can change so quickly at times, or not change at all as was in Em’s case when two days start exactly the same. I think this was an intelligent way to approach a story that spans 20 years. We don’t really need a full depiction of every single event in their lives to have a sense of what they are going through. I had knots in my stomach through most of the book and after finishing this at 1 am this morning, I could do nothing but stare at the ceiling and walls, absorbing what I had read, tearing it apart mentally, and extracting lessons from it to be applied in life. That, for me, is the mark of a wonderful novel, reading that reaches into your soul and touches your heart, writing that moves you to feel.
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Gill
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If I could give this book ten stars I would
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 17, 2019
One Day has to be one of the most moving books I have ever read. Hilariously funny in places and so sad in other places the tissues came out. In one part when it looked like the main characters were not going to get together I actually cried out loud, no oh, no, no! The...See more
One Day has to be one of the most moving books I have ever read. Hilariously funny in places and so sad in other places the tissues came out. In one part when it looked like the main characters were not going to get together I actually cried out loud, no oh, no, no! The writer, David Nicholls, takes you deep inside the characters, you suffer their setbacks and uncertainties, want to scream (in fact I did) at the stupid, weak and self destructive behaviour of Dexter, while all the time wanting him and Em to be together. It is such an emotional read it hurts, but I still recommend it. One of the best books I''ve read.
14 people found this helpful
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Peter - The Reading Desk
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Exciting and subtle love story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 9, 2018
If unrequited love is one of the saddest feelings we can ever experience, then imagine how much of a tragedy it is when both equally feel that their love for the other may not be felt as strongly in return, and the risk of losing what you have if you reveal all, is too...See more
If unrequited love is one of the saddest feelings we can ever experience, then imagine how much of a tragedy it is when both equally feel that their love for the other may not be felt as strongly in return, and the risk of losing what you have if you reveal all, is too great to risk. David Nicholls provides a very enthralling approach to this scenario by visiting Dex and Emma over a period of 20 years but always on the15th July. "What are days for? Days are where we live. They come, they wake us, time and time over They are to be happy in: where can we live but days." How is it that we can say something either in truth or for emotional protection that dictates so much in relationships. If only we could go back and remove or change what was said. How confusing is a relationship when behaviour and feelings are at war with our words. David Nicholls weaves this love story through these concepts in a delightful and teasing way. Will they, won''t they. This is a very touching take on the love story that perhaps releases that whispering in our minds on past decisions we made. What if?
17 people found this helpful
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SuperFlo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
So Real!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 13, 2017
This is a fantastic script which edits the lives of 2 friends. Two mates so strong that they could ride through anything and everything and remain so close, despite the stepping stones of their opposite lifestyles! Deeply, in love, yet failing to tell one another until!!!...See more
This is a fantastic script which edits the lives of 2 friends. Two mates so strong that they could ride through anything and everything and remain so close, despite the stepping stones of their opposite lifestyles! Deeply, in love, yet failing to tell one another until!!! This book made me laugh, get cross with the characters and yes it made me sniffle and cry! It''s an outstanding read. Soooo much better than the film! Couldn''t put this book down! One of the best reads! A talented author who has the ability to draw you in as if you are a fly in the room! Congratulations!
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Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Is love really all that difficult? Yes, yes it is.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 22, 2020
This is a novel that takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions. It begins light, humorous, warm and aloof, just like most of us are once we graduate, all our efforts and studies paying off, looking into the future full of ideals, hopes and dreams. At the heart of the story...See more
This is a novel that takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions. It begins light, humorous, warm and aloof, just like most of us are once we graduate, all our efforts and studies paying off, looking into the future full of ideals, hopes and dreams. At the heart of the story are Emma and Dexter, two young people who start out long-time friends and one-night lovers and go on becoming so much more over the course of 20 years. David Nicholls chooses to have each chapter dedicated to a single specific date, the 15th of July, a chapter for every year. On this day, Emma and Dexter sometimes come together, sometimes they don''t. WARNING: Do not watch the movie before you read it, totally ruins the hype.
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