Review: One Day, David Nicholls

Here’s what’s happening, y’all. My sister has been in town, and I am moving house. I have been doing lots of cool, fun stuff with my sister. We went to see the coolest ever exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design the other day, this thing about small worlds, which was so unbelievably beautiful. And we went a-picnicking on Governors IslandΒ  on Sunday, wearing flapper dresses. Then also I am moving house. I’ve finally found a new apartment (yay!) in an area that looks like I’m going to like a lot, with roommates who seem terribly nice, and a lovely sunny front room, and everything. I’m glad that the apartment search is over, because it’s been hellish and a time suck, but now I have to think about moving, and I have a very hard time with moving. I am ferociously stressed by the idea of moving. I’m not good at change, and the move is looming in the future like the Abominable Snowman in Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. If I haven’t been posting and commenting as much lately, it’s because I’ve been spending time with my lovely, wonderful Indie Sister, wandering the boroughs on an apartment-hunt, and watching Say Yes to the Dress because I am overwhelmed by the idea of moving. But here is One Day.

Dexter and Emma spend a night together after graduation, and they become the best of friends thereafter. One Day drops in on their lives once a year, every year on 15 July. Dexter, a child of privilege, falls into TV presenting almost by accident; Emma, an idealistic Northern girl, searches for the way that she can change the world. They see different people, they grow apart and grow together, they fall in love and out of love, and they have jobs and family problems and relationship problems and all sorts of things.

I read this book very fast, because I was considering getting it for a friend for her birthday (her birthday being 15 July), and I wanted to check to see if it was something she would like. I also read it fast because I had an afternoon to kill, and I suppose I partly read it fast because it was a fun read and I was curious what would happen. But mainly the birthday thing and the afternoon-killing thing. It was well-enough-written and relatively engaging, and I didn’t object to anything in it particularly.

Some books are like skipping stones, you know? They go dashing across the surface of the water, and it’s fun to watch; and then the stone sinks in and you forget about it immediately. I doubt I will ever give a thought to this book again. There wasn’t enough to it. Oh, except I will probably go see the Anne Hathaway film with someone from work, because, well, it’s fun to go out for drinks with the girls from work and then go watch a chick flick. Don’t judge. Other times we watch Shakespeare.

(Well, no, we have never watched Shakespeare yet. But we would.)

Other people with better, fuller reviews:

Many! Many! Many!

  • Nope, not judging. Any excuse for girls night out is a good excuse. Especially if drinks are involved.

    • I know, right? Especially if the drinks are a lovely white wine.

  • You are too funny! A lot of people have told me this is AMAZING and LIFE CHANGING and I am not convinced. But the film looks good and I’d totally go and see it. I am about as snobby with films as I am with chocolate – the cheaper the better. IF you don’t end up going with the girls from work, call me – I’ll come flapper girl! πŸ˜‰ Wasn’t that a fun day!

    • That was a fun day! And yes we should go see the film! I’m concerned the work girls won’t want to go to it, because the one who likes guilty pleasure movies as much as I do doesn’t like the look of the leading man. Not scary-looking enough for her, I think.

  • I love your comparison to stones! I agree. This book was mildliy enjoyable to read, but not one I ever think about after (apart from being forced to by the millions of other reviews!)

    • Hahahaha, yeah, I think I would have been actively annoyed by the book if I’d read it when it was so big a few years ago. I do remember people getting waaaaay more excited over it than it merits (in my opinion).

  • I feel sick to the stomach whenever I see this book, I hated the ending so much. But, I do want to see the movie! Maybe because I will know what’s coming?

    Also, the last movie I went to see with the girls from work was Something Borrowed. I am definitely not one to judge.

    • I thought the ending was silly. I mean it was so obviously just to make the book feel like it mattered more than it did. I was strongly opposed to it and I am hoping the movie changes it. Of course if it does I will gripe about it but still I think they should change the end.

  • Good luck with your move!
    I had read One Day a couple of months ago and I wasn’t particularly impressed, especially considering all the rave reviews I had read about it.
    There were several things that bothered me about though I can’t really remember what they were anymore. Other than the awful ending.
    A book that I did really enjoy, though, and which might make a good gift for your friend is attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Have you read it?

    • I haven’t read it. What’s it about?

  • I love the skipping stones analogy. I’m glad the apartment search is over – wishing you the best of luck with the move!

    • Thank you! A week later and I still haven’t finished moving but hopefully I’ll be able to knock it out this week.

  • There are admittedly a lot of books that seem just fine when I am reading them, but after I have turned that last page, there is just nothing that is going to stick to my brain. I think that most of the reads I come across are like this, and that’s one of the reasons I started the blog, so I can remember in detail just what it was that a particular book had me thinking. Glad to hear that the apartment hunting went so well!

    • That’s why I started my blog too! I would always remember having read a book, but remember no details about why I felt about the book the way I did feel. Now I have a record. πŸ™‚

  • Good luck with your move! I agree, they can be really stressful. And I also like the skipping stone analogies — some books are just like that. I think I’m going to grab the copy I just bought used and bring it too the beach this weekend since I like stone-skipping books for reading outside πŸ™‚

    • Oh, yeah, a book like this is perfect for the beach! I was reading it on a bench in Soho on a Friday afternoon, and that was the perfect setting too. Perfecter if I’d had ice cream.

  • I love your skipping stone analogy. I’ve had an awful lot of skipping stone books this year. On the one hand, they were fun and I enjoyed them while I read them and I’m perfectly all right with not incorporating them into my life. On the other, I want books that rip my soul into itty bitty pieces and stay with me forever, and I’m a bit miffed I haven’t found many. Sigh.

    Also, horray for sister-visits! (Not that I have a sister who’s ever visited me–or a sister who’s never visited me, for that matter, but… yeah. Visits are fun.) And for exciting new apartments! Good luck with your move.

    • Me too! Nothing has rocked my world this year! I mean, well, Persian Fire did, but not because the book itself was so life-changing, just because the stories of the Persian Wars are amazing. If you find a life-changing book please let me know.

  • Amy

    Skipping stones analogy = fabulous! I read part of this in a bookstore waiting for a friend and didn’t feel I needed to read anymore so passed on it.

    Congrats on the new apartment! Moving sucks but I’m sure it’ll go by faster than you think.

    Enjoy the sister visit. I love it when my sister drops into town for a few days too. πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, if I’d started reading it in a bookstore I wouldn’t have finished it. It was only because I had it from the library and I was hoping it would turn into an awesome present-book. But sadly, it did not.

  • Raidergirl3

    I read this last year and have vague memories of the book. I remember the ending(blech), and I remember being annoyed that it was considered a great read, literature wise, when if the author had any other name besides David, it would be called chick-lit and nothing more. I was so combination annoyed and underwhelmed that I never wrote a review. It’ll still make a great movie.

    Good luck moving and yay for sisters

    • “If the author had any other name besides David, it would be called chick-lit and nothing more.” YES.

      • Raidergirl3

        Thanks Jenny’s mum! I probably would have enjoyed the book more if I han

    • YES YES YES. As I was reading it, I was thinking that if a woman had written this book it would have been totally scorned. I wouldn’t have liked it any better if it were by a woman, but I’d at least not have felt all resentful.

  • Yay for finding an apartment! I too detest moving. This last time we moved (in March) we even hired movers and I STILL wanted to die – mostly its the anxiety beforehand but the actual act of moving is just the complete opposite of fun. I wish you much luck.

    And I love the skipping stones analogy too. I find a lot of books are kind of like that.

    • The anxiety is so exceptionally unpleasant that it stops me from taking any steps to effect a move, and then that makes everything more stressful again. It’s so bad. I have to force myself to think about it enough to make a list so that I can get things accomplished.

  • I hate moving! Just hate it! But I love to watch Say Yes to the Dress so that’s fun πŸ™‚ I hadn’t heard of this book but I may check it out at some point. Good luck with your move!

    • I know! Moving is awful! Moving should be outlawed! Down with moving! If it weren’t for TLC shows on instant stream I would weep all the time.

  • JoV

    I like it but not crazy about it. Hate Dexter, to the max! Not sure if I’ll watch the movie. I agree with you, a skipping stone, it doesn’t quite sink in. πŸ˜‰

    • Yeah, Dexter sucks! And Emma sort of sucks too, I’m afraid, but at least she has a pretty name.

  • Congrats on the lovely new living situation. Hope it turns out fabulously! And I’ve had this very same type of reaction to many books lately. I don’t know what my deal is. It’s like I have ADD — I can’t finish anything!

    • I think it will turn out great! I like the neighborhood a lot — people look happier here when I’m walking around on the street than they did in my old neighborhood, and that is great.

      I hope your reading situation gets all sorted out soon!

  • I read Starter for Ten by the same author – that was also a light, insubstantial, slightly irritating read – if we can have chicklit, then this is definitely, I dunno, blokelit? Like Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons – my man read One Day and enjoyed it, but I haven’t been tempted yet (plus I lent it to a friend and she hasn’t finished it yet)

    • Oh, yeah, Nick Hornby is also not my cup of tea. I have no problem with him, he’s fine, but I think he gets more credit than he would if he were, you know, a woman. Same with David Nicholls.

  • Oh, I hate moving, too. I’m such a clinger. Moving entails having to throw things out, probably. And I think I’m a terrible hoarder of memorabilia. An apartment with a sunny room sound fantastic, though. You always need to make sure the are nooks aplenty where you can curl up with a book.

    • I don’t mind throwing things out AT ALL — I find it totally cleansing, thanks to an energetic campaign by my mother throughout my childhood to counteract the hoarding tendencies of my family members — but I hate packing everything up and having to think and think and think about what’s going to happen to all of it in a new place.

      However, I will have more shelves in the new place. I love shelves. I can’t stop thinking about shelves. Shelves are legendary.

  • Raidergirl3

    Thanks Jenny’s mum! I probably would have enjoyed the book more if I Hadn’t thought of that so early. It changed how I read the book.

  • Moving IS stressful. Now, are skipping stone books better when a person is stressed than really meaningful ones, or is it necessary to read wonderful books to compensate for the existential struggle of moving? Hmm, tricky. I suppose this may have to be a season of rereads. I haven’t read One Day, although I expect I will eventually. Your review is a treat, as always.

    • I would lean towards reading funnish books when moving, but this book was — I don’t know — it wasn’t exactly fun. It was fine for an afternoon whipping through it, but I wouldn’t be crazy about the idea of spending more than one day with these characters.

  • Sounds like you have been mostly having fun. I am worried about my next move because of all the books that I have, but I try not to think about it…

    • I have been mostly trying to have fun. :p My books are too many for my new apartment, but they are basically too many for any apartment anywhere.

  • I think I have this one on my stacks, so I’ll be sure to pull it out for some afternoon killin’ sometime. Lots of exciting things going on for you! Have fun and hopefully you’ll be moved in in no time!

    I’m also glad to know that someone else watches Say Yes to the Dress while stressed. πŸ˜€

    • I’m always glad to hear of other people who watch Say Yes to the Dress. I feel so ashamed of myself! It is nice to hear that I am not alone in my guilty pleasure.

  • Good luck moving! It stresses me out too. We actually just renewed our lease because I couldn’t face the packing again and had to lie down and groan every time the subject of cheaper rent / being closer to school was brought up. So, you are not alone. Also, I very much like the skipping stone analogy.

    • Oh I would have renewed the lease at my old place, I totally would have done that. And not, I assure you, because the old place was anything special or because I liked the twenty-minute walk to the subway. Just because I am fundamentally extremely lazy and change-averse.

  • gaskella

    It was good at the time wasn’t it. Nuff said really.

    • Hahahaha, absolutely true.

  • Beautiful review, Jenny! I loved your skipping stones analogy πŸ™‚ The premise behind ‘One Day’ is really interesting.

    • It is, but it’s not exactly what I was expecting from the premise. I thought it was that they MET UP on the same day every year, but it wasn’t that. We just saw them on that day every year. Sometimes being quite depressing and nowhere near each other.

  • The skipping stones analogy really is perfect. I know it’s awful to say it, but the movie almost looks like it might be better than the book. Will I burn in bibliophile hell for saying that?

    • You will absolutely not burn in bibliophile hell for that. The fact is, sometimes mediocre books make awesome movies. Cf., The Princess Bride. πŸ˜€

  • Ooh. Picnicking in flapper dresses sounds like so much fun!

    I hated this book. The characters were spoiled and insufferable and the ending…Ugh. Maybe if I’d gone into it realizing it was “chick-lit” I would have felt more charitable.

    Best of luck moving. It’ll be okay.

    • It was so much fun! I love my flapper dress, and we got ice cream, and it was great. Much much more fun than reading One Day.

  • I am trying again. CHEERS for the now-infamous skipping stones post!

    • hey – it worked. πŸ™‚

  • I have heard lots of great things about this book but I suspect that this is quite an accurate review of it. Too many people saying how wonderful and amazing and deep and meaningful it is isn’t always a good thing! I am going to read it before the movie comes out because…. well, why not?!

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