One Day, David Nicholls (Hodder, 2010)

Featured in online newspaper ‘Arthur’s Daily Book News’

One Day

Dex & Em; Em & Dex. The couple get together on 15th July in 1988, the night of their graduation. On the same date, over the next 20 years, we visit the two protagonists in a non-linear, and almost epistolary, narrative style, reminiscent of Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Dexter Mayhew, now a television presenter, lives a cavalier lifestyle and thrives upon a cocktail of sexual affairs, drugs and alcohol. As a reader, one of the most difficult decisions will be whether or not to feel sympathy for Dexter, who finds difficulty in dealing with the pressure of fame and the eventual fall into obscurity.

Hard-working Emma Morley battles confidence and self-belief in her dream of becoming a successful writer; meanwhile, she finds work as a primary school teacher and has an unfortunate string of hopeless boyfriends.

You will find yourself desperately hoping that Emma and Dexter will be together, a couple who are simply meant for each other. Nicholls’ writing expertise shines through in this masterpiece, which will tug at your heart strings and leave you with a tear in your eye. By the way, try to avoid watching the movie adaptation beforehand, in order to avoid spoiling the twists and turns of this emotionally turbulent novel.

Nicholls more than establishes himself as a master of romance fiction with One Day, simultaneously displaying his great sense of humour, which will have you laughing out loud. This is more than can be said for Ian, one of Emma’s boyfriends, and a relentlessly awful comedian.

I feel that One Day would have benefited from a more consistent use of the present tense; at times, the story lost its emphasis, whilst the flow of the normally effortless narrative was disrupted, as a result of it slipping into the past tense. Nonetheless, this is one of the finest romantic-comedy novels of the century, which, in the style of Nick Hornby, and High Fidelity in particular, also gives us an educative look into British life in the 90s. One Day – original, hilarious and heartbreaking – is destined to become a classic.

4.5 books



Filed under Comedy, Romance

15 responses to “One Day, David Nicholls (Hodder, 2010)

  1. I adore this book. One of the ones I bought for everybody’s birthdays that year!
    – Lauren

    • Hi Lauren,

      Thank you very much for reading the review, I hope you enjoyed it.

      I totally agree – what a fantastic book!! A perfect one to share with all of the people you love.

      Good luck with your 13 goals by the way. That is a great idea, especially the dissertation one! That is very brave. Could I ask which topic you’ve chosen?



      • It’s a great review – liked the reference to poor Ian. Isn’t it terrible that I didn’t actually notice the tenses changed?

        Thanks, I’ll need it for my dissertation! I was investigating the most effective ways of marketing for small, independent publishers, then realised the sheer scale of it. After three months! Bit of a setback, but I’ll just have to narrow it down.

        Thanks for visiting back! 🙂 Looking forward to more of your reviews. Can’t resist recommending a couple: ‘The Humans’ by Matt Haig and ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce. (I normally say ‘One Day’ as well!)

      • Hello again Lauren, how are you??

        Thank you very much, I’m glad you liked that. Do you feel quite sympathetic towards Ian? And no it’s not terrible; I think I’m just a bit fussy like that, so I sometimes pick up on little things.

        I certainly don’t want to detract from the fact that ‘One Day’ is an extremely good novel! Your dissertation topic sounds very interesting 🙂 but I agree that you may have to narrow it down a little.

        I’m no expert of course, and I won’t even be doing my dissertation until next year, but we have received some advice about it. I am sure it will be great fun, and the research will be very interesting!

        You’re very welcome and I hope I can publish some new reviews soon. I have my last exam of the year on Monday, so hopefully after that I can get reading and reviewing again. Thank you for the recommendations; I’ve heard of the second one, which I’ve been tempted to read and I just looked up ‘The Humans’ and it looks great!!

        Thank you,


  2. Lee-Anne

    I really like the two reviews of yours I’ve just read – erudite and comprehensive, without giving too much away. I haven’t read ‘One Day’ but will try to fit it in… concur completely with your thoughts on ‘The Book Thief’ 🙂

    • Hi Lee-Anne,

      Thank you for taking your time to read the two reviews. These two have been very popular lately, and I think it is because they are both so, so good!

      You are very flattering and complimentary, as I find it difficult to strike the balance between informing/tempting readers and revealing/spoiling key plot details. I am very happy that you feel I have done this effectively 🙂

      I would definitely recommend reading ‘One Day’; it is genuinely one of the finest novels I have read, and one of the greatest of this century. If you find time to read it, please come back and share your views.

      Good luck with your writing.

      Kind regards,


  3. I love this book. It was a brilliant discovery when I chanced upon it.

    Couldn’t stand the movie adaptation though, which was a pity.

    Have you read any of his other books? I read two of them and they really fell flat for me.

    • Hi again Sinead,

      It’s a fantastic book, isn’t it? I remember it was advertised quite a lot, and I thought it sounded pretty good. And it delivered, which was lucky, because it isn’t the typical commercialised bestseller – it is a “genuine” bestseller, which it deserves, as it is so good!

      I haven’t seen the movie, and I don’t plan on it, because all the reviews I have heard about it have echoed what you said.

      I also haven’t read any of his others, though I have been tempted. Which ones did you read?? I do tend to read a maximum of 2/3 books by a single author, as I like to explore as many different writing styles as possible.

      Furthermore, maybe each author only gets one pure classic. What do you think? It doesn’t make the other novels bad, but it does make it difficult to live up to that masterpiece. If an author can produce one classic, then he/she is a genius. If he/she can produce more…then that is masterful!!

      Kind regards,


      • The other two I read were The Understudy and Starter for Ten. I think he wrote them before One Day, so I’d say it could have been a case of finding his feet with those two and then hitting his stride with One Day, as there are certain similarities in humour and set-up/

        That’s pretty interesting that every author only has one pure classic. It often happens with series that people say that the 2nd or 3rd books don’t live up to the first. But then in that case, I prefer to consider the series one story as a whole.

        For example, I love the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I think that each book complements the others and one book’s weaknesses are supported by another’s strengths.

  4. I’ve thought many times about buying those two and reading them, but they didn’t appeal to me quite as much, and after ‘One Day’ I was worried I would be a bit disappointed.

    You’re quite right though; I’m sure Nicholls was still going through the learning process and maturing as a writer, before producing the awesome ‘One Day’.

    I don’t want to seem like a cynic though, and I would not like to slate the other work of an author who has produced something that I enjoyed so much.

    I like the way you approach a series of book, as it is a very fair way to look at something which must be extremely difficult to do. To produce 2 or 3 or more consecutive books of high quality must be very challenging.

    I don’t tend to read many series of books, as you may expect, seeing as I said I don’t read too many books by the same author. Nonetheless, Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ trilogy is absolutely excellent! I will have to re-read and review them, as I read them before I started with the blog 😦

    Thanks again for your comments!!


  5. That’s a good job. Well done!

  6. Hiya, to be honest I didn’t feel that sorry for Ian! I was so set on Emma and Dexter getting together that I felt she was wasting her time (and leading Ian on). They were both at fault.

    Hope your exam went well! And you should definitely read ‘The Humans’ when you get the chance. That will be a modern classic!

    • Hi, I totally agree! I was just very curious, as it would be interesting to meet somebody who “did” feel sorry for Ian. He was rather terrible. But, you’re so right; Emma should have broken off the relationship much sooner, because she couldn’t stand him from a very early stage.

      Thank you very much, by the way 🙂 it felt like it went quite well, but you never know with exams, so I’ll just have to wait and see. Have you made any more developments with your dissertation?

      And I will be sure to read ‘The Humans’ once I have the time.

      Kind regards,


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