Our book club’s February read was One Day by David Nicholls. Since some of you couldn’t be at the dinner and discussion, I thought I’d bring the discussion to you! (I wish I could bring you some of Carrie’s delicious Italian casserole and a slice of Lauran’s gorgeous strawberry cheesecake, too, but … well … that might get messy at your keyboard.)
The book, which is being made into a movie right now, is about Em and Dex, an English couple who reconnect every year on St. Swithin’s Day in England. Over a period of 20 years, they each live their own lives and have their own loves, failures and disappointments, but keep coming back to each other with something slightly missing.
Here’s what some of the members of the book club thought:
It felt too much like I was reading about my own struggles at that age, which I do not find interesting enough to read about unless the author can provide me with comic relief or something more than what I already learned on my own, neither of which I felt he did. The author may have felt that the July 15th annual snapshot was a new and fresh way to present what would otherwise be considered ordinary lives, but to me it just felt gimmicky. I also found the story to be to0 predictable. — Lauran
I read the book and was sorry to miss book club. I enjoyed One Day. I went to college in England just a few years ahead of the protagonists, and I found the early part of the book evocative of the atmosphere around and attitudes among the ‘young set’ in those days. I also appreciated the no-holds-barred presentation of life–almost as if it were happening to, rather than by, the author, and I admire that technique (whatever it is!). However, having said all that, almost as soon as I finished it, I began to wonder whether I’m really going to remember the ‘flavor’ of this book in the future, let alone desire to read it again (these are my principal personal measures of a book). As the weeks go by, I increasingly doubt that this novel is going to stand out for me. — Rosy
What I liked about this book was that it was not a mushy romance, but one with realistic characters who were funny, tender and absolutely hilarious at different times in the story. I loved the light-hearted humor, very British! There were also some very poignant scenes in the book, like the one where Emma goes to Dex’s wedding. — Mary Ann
Rosy, It’s always interesting to see what makes a book worthwhile for someone else. A book’s particular flavor, that it be memorable and something you’d want to read again, have comic relief, impart some lesson of something new. I love that you have those criteria.
I guess the human element is usually big for me. Beyond that, I don’t really have any set criteria except for good writing. Does it impact me emotionally in some way? I wait for each book to take me where it takes me, someplace different, hopefully.
One Day is a love story. For me, it was beautiful by virtue of it being just that: a love story. The way the book was framed around one day each year over time had a simplifying effect that pared it down to the essential and made it easier for the author to focus on the two main characters without spending too much time developing the other personalities, subplots, and so on. Everyone and everything else becomes periphery. Over and over again, the author writes about the ongoing attraction, affection, mutual sweet regard, longing, and love Dex and Em have for each other throughout the decades without getting cumbersome or laden with detail. It was light and at the same time moving, and I felt the depth of the relationship, no matter what they were saying or doing on the surface.
I loved the book, and I was moved. Nicholls achieved a balance that felt neither masculine nor feminine in voice or perspective. My favorite passages where where he describes what Dex and Em are thinking, feeling, as each notices the other.
Like you, Lauran, I sensed what was coming—but not until just before. So, I’m not sure predictable is the word I would use. — Barbara
I enjoy the diversity in our opinions because I always get something more out of a book listening everyone else’s opinion. And on the chance that I would re-read any of our books I look forward to seeing them through someone else’s eyes. — Lauran
What about you? Have you read One Day? What are your thoughts?