One Day by David Nicholls

It is a book that book clubs and book bloggers everywhere have been dipping into recently. If you were a university student in the 80s, you may well find One Day by David Nicholls awakens nostalgia. Remember those letters that we wrote before email and facebook? Long, chatty letters that sometimes ran to pages and pages were the way to keep in touch during college holidays and in those initial years following graduation.

Emma and Dexter, the central characters in One Day, will also be familiar to many readers. Who has known the serious girl in love with the flighty young man? Who has not shared an intense platonic/non-platonic relationship with a contemporary?

Emma and Dexter, friends rather than lovers, spend a night together following their graduation from university in Edinburgh. It’s a moment in time – an understandable coming together of two people in the same situation at the same time. Neither expects it to be anything more and yet, that night, turns out to have been a defining moment. It’s the foundation stone for a series of annual meet ups and the basis for a developing and deepening relationship over the following years. Is this a love story? Yes it is, but it is also a life story , perhaps even a rite of passage.

Life teaches its lessons to both Emma and Dexter and each adjusts expectations in the process. Slowly, both characters realise what the reader (and perhaps, Emma) has seen from the start, that as a couple they are better than either of them is as an individual.

One Day is a fast and enjoyable read with some nice references and resonances that will appeal to anyone who has studied English literature.