At my last job I represented a company marketing an e-reader. Given the content of our daily work, the VP on the account suggested that everyone on the team bring a book to our team dinner and we'd all swap. In the book swap I was gifted "One Day" by David Nicholls. I hadn't heard of the book, but the premise sounded interesting.
Now that I take the bus and the T to work and have about 40 minutes to read every morning and again in the afternoon, I've been flying through books. When deciding what to read next, I selected "One Day" because I heard Focus Features is releasing a film version and I wanted to be sure to read it before the movie was cast and my imagination was ruined by learning who would be playing the lead characters.
"One Day" is one of the most genuine depictions of the male/female relationship that I have ever read. Nicholls writes with an incredible sincerity.
At the start of the book we are introduced to Emma and Dexter. It is the evening of their college graduation and though they never spent time together during school, they now find themselves sharing a bed. Despite her conservative, bookish nature and his irresponsible, playboy tendencies, Emma and Dexter have undeniable chemistry.
Each of the twenty three chapters checks in with Emma and Dexter on the anniversary of that first night they spent together. The book follows them through world travels, careers changes, happy and then not so happy relationships, and all with an undercurrent of affection for one another.
The book focuses really on "the one that got away." I think we all have that person. In one of my favorite episodes of Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon's character Miranda says, "Men are like cabs. You have to get in while the light is on." That is to say, relationships are all about timing. You can be orbiting around a person for decades, but depending on the circumstances in both of your lives, you may or may not be able to act on your feelings.
I don't want to give away any of the plot because the book is so marvelous. Instead I'd like to give a tremendous "Bravo!" to author David Nicholls for his ability to write from the female perspective. How he was able to understand the complex and overly analytical mind of a woman, I will never know. In one of my favorite passages, Emma is narrating her thoughts about screaming at Dexter's father over dinner. Nicholls writes:
"Of course she had spoiled it; getting nervous and drinking too much at dinner, shouting at Dexter's father - a mild, modest, perfectly reasonable man - about Nicaragua, while all the time Dexter regarded her with a look of affectionate disappointment, as if she were a puppy who had soiled a rug. Had she really sat at their table, eating their food and calling his father a facist? That night she lay in the guest bedroom, dazed and remorseful, waiting for a knock on the door that clearly would never come; romantic hopes sacrificed for the Sandinistas, who were unlikely to be grateful."
I enjoyed every minute of reading this book. I found myself laughing and getting misty following the lives of these two characters. One of my high school English teachers used to stress the importance of creating "round" characters. These characters are so round you'd swear you know them.
SPOILER ALERT! Do not read on if you do not want to know about the upcoming film version of the book!
Anne Hathaway has been cast as Emma and Jim Sturgess as Dexter. The film premieres August 19th. Below are some photos from the set: