Virtual Book Club — Online Discussion of David Nicholls’ ‘One Day’

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?

 

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2 thoughts on “Virtual Book Club — Online Discussion of David Nicholls’ ‘One Day’

  1. Oddly (or ironically?) someone on Shelfari was asking me about One Day this week and so I just sent them the link to your blog so they could read all the opinions.

    It was different putting it in writing …… this is an exercise we should try more often.

  2. I liked the book. I think it was more of a love story than a romance novel though. It wasn’t your typical boy meets girl and they fall in love. It was more about a friendship that grew into love. Having it be about just one day, every year for 20 years was a different way to write it, but I never felt like I missed anything. I did not find it predictable, really, I mean we all thought they would get together because it is romance, right? I did not expect it to end the way it did, but I thought it was done well.

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