When Em met Dex

One Day by David Nicholls

It may have a contrived plot, and be the sort of chick-lit-ish book written by a bloke that many blokes will actually read, but One Day is not an ordinary book. Barring a slightly flabby middle, it was an all-absorbing read that twanged all my emotional heartstrings…

It charts the lives of Emma and Dexter, starting on graduation night when they drunkenly fall into bed together, realise that they may have something, but with the rest of their lives just about to start, they swear to be friends and keep in touch. Then we keep up with them over the next twenty years through all life’s ups and downs as they keep passing in and out of each others lives.  However we just get a snapshot – just one day out of each year on the anniversary of that first meeting in 1985 on St Swithun’s Day, July 15.

That’s all I’m going to say about the plot, as I don’t want to give anything away – of course you hope that they’ll get it together, just like in When Harry Met Sally.  The ‘one day’ device may be contrived but it works because we are drawn to Emma and Dexter right from the off and there is some sparkling repartee between them, this quote is from 1995 and Dex has taken Em out to a ‘in’ Club-Restaurant …

‘I eat out most days now. As a matter of fact, I’ve been asked if I want to review for one of the Sundays.’
‘Cocktail bars. Weekly column called “Barfly”, sort of man-about town thing.’
‘And you’d write it yourself?’
‘Of course I’d write it myself!,’ he said, though he had been assured that the column would be heavily ghosted.
‘What is there to say about cocktails?’
‘You’d be surprised. Cocktails are very cool now. Sort of a retro glamour thing. In fact -‘  he put  his mouth to the empty martini glass ‘-I’m something of a mixologist myself.’
‘I’m sorry, I thought you said “misogynist”.’
‘Ask me how to make a cocktail, any cocktail you like.’
She pressed her chin with her finger. ‘Okay, um … lager top!’
‘I’m serious , Em. It’s a real skill.’
‘What is?’
‘Mixology. People go on special courses.’
‘Maybe you should have done it for your degree.’
‘It would certainly have been more fucking useful.’

David Nicholls is probably the new Nick Hornby.  So if you like him, you’ll probably enjoy Nicholls, (though I’ve yet to read Starter for Ten – although I enjoyed the film).  This novel was clever, moving and fun – recommended for a light but thoroughly engaging read.  (9/10)
I bought this book.

Read some other reviews:  Simon S here, and Jackie here.

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To buy from Amazon.co.uk, click below:
One Day
Starter For 10 [DVD] [2006]
When Harry Met Sally [DVD] [1989]


14 thoughts on “When Em met Dex

  1. Do give it a go! I’ve just finished reading this too, and thought it was very well-written: the kind of fluid prose that slips by – with spot-on dialogue – that disguises the skill involved. As Annabel says, it’s very moving.

    Interesting you should start by calling it chick-lit-ish. All the way through, and mindful of all the amazing reviews from serious literary folk at he front, I kept thinking that if a woman had written this book, it would be dismissed as chick-lit, but as it’s David Nicholls… But so what if it is, or isn’t? It’s a genuinely engaging read that deserves all its praise.

    • I think it’s wonderful that some men do write books like this – that everyone can enjoy, but maybe appeal to men’s softer sides – but it does need that Nick Hornby quote on the cover …

  2. I agree about the middle. This book could have lost a lot of pages and become a much better read. I loved Starter for Ten – the plot seemed a lot more controlled and much funnier. I think you’ll love it.

    • I hear the book is much better than the movie, so looking forward to it (it’s in the TBR along with the Understudy).

  3. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one… I recently won it in a giveaway so I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it. I know it’s not going to be a perfect book, but it’s so different from what I generally read that I admit I’m excited by the way it will shake up my reading.

  4. Hey, so I have a Mixology Blog, and I actually totally missed that passage in the book. Thanks so much for posting this, it’s always fun to read about Mixology in literature. H.L. Menken has a scathing critique.

    • Ori – hi! Glad to be of service. I couldn’t work out how to leave a comment on your blog, so thanks for the link.

  5. I’m excited to read this! I have a friend whose birthday is 15 July, and I need to read this sometime before then, so I can decide whether she’d like it as a gift. It would be a suitable gift! Birthday day book! :p

  6. Pingback: One Day – David Nicholls – 9/10 | Reading Fuelled By Tea

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