The Book Bit
It’s not often that one can read a book that perfectly condenses life, warts-and-all, into 464 pages of paperback perfection. Most authors tend to capture a wonderfully two-dimensional perspective of life. It’s either usually too happy, too sad, or too damn boring.
David Nicholls, however, has managed to flesh out the emotions to a tee, making the characters of his lengthy and emotionally dense tail an become immaculately believable in the mind’s eye of any reader.
The main characters themselves are perfect representations of the genres that pertain to their gender: Dexter is a lad-lit author’s dream, being higher class, rather attractive, and the boy-about-campus who doesn’t mind a party or seven. Emma, in a strange yet fitting contrast has popped straight out of a chick-lit novel, with her staunch feminism, ‘unconventional-cute-looks’ and her permanent and unfailing strength to protest for something or other.
Strangely enough, these two opposite characters find themselves together in a hotel bed on St Swithin’s Day, just after they’ve both graduated from Edinburgh University. While Emma has crushed on ‘Dex’ throughout the years at university, he is trying to plot an inconspicuous escape from the bed- but both are starry eyed and rather perplexed as to what lies ahead, with their vice chancellor ensuring them that the doors of opportunity are ‘flung wide’. To Dexter Mayhew, thinking ahead too far forward in the future is terrifying, being one of those fashionable ‘in-the-now’ males.
As always, though, the heart-to-heart can’t last forever, and we sadly see the pair go their separate ways- thought they vow to keep in contact. Dexter jets off around the world visiting far flung lands across the globe, and Emma keeps her feet on the ground in Britain, starting off by working for a community theatre company along with a closet racist and a definitely-not-closet exhibitionist. Both Dexter and Emma write to eachother furiously; staining pages with messages that tug on the heart-strings and convey that they like eachother just that little bit more than they’re letting on. Dexter, too, rather surprisingly offers several poignant letters, showing magnificent care for Emma- though, of course, it could have been the exotic alcohol talking.
Throughout the book, where we see the pair’s communications and meetings every St. Swithin’s day. Dexter’s career runs about as high as the emotions in the book, as he becomes a British television star. Emma’s, however, sinks. After the community theatre stint, she ends up working in a cheap Mexican restaurant in North West London, and every day, slowly but surely, becomes another painful chore; serving customers several varieties of tortilla, and having to socialise with Ian Whitehead, a colleague and part time stand-up comedian who just can’t find the off button on his ‘humour’. Through this time, jealousy floods from the tale like a river flooding from a broken dam, almost to the point where the reader can taste it in their mouth. It seems as though, despite the main characters’ blatant hankerings for each other, their paths will never cross in the same way again, as Emma gets involved with Ian, and Dexter gets involved with anything that moves and may have drugs.
Slowly but surely, as in real life, the characters change and adapt, and the emotions they create suddenly create a huge dark hole within the reader, matched only by the voraciously addictive nature of the book. At times, David Nicholls’ bracing wordcraft creates massive moments of hunger, with the reader praying for the mental and romantic torture to end as he plays with the lives of Dexter and Emma, bringing them within touching distance of each other, but always, somehow, leaving them miles apart.
The book itself is incredibly well written, and as emotions run as high as the Alps and as thick as treacle, the plot compliments it perfectly, offering several twists that always leave the reader wanting more.
The ‘Popcorn Post’ Bit
Assuming that you don’t live under a rock, you’ll probably know that One Day has been adapted into a movie. Living in London, it’s hard to escape that fact, with a theatrical poster being cheaply applied to almost every bus in the capital.
For a book that was wonderfully expressive, and left high expectations in the mind’s eye, the movie [or the trailer, at least] seems to be desperate and disappointing. While I am an Anne Hathaway fan, and am in awe of her various talents, her casting has been a big problem for me, and her ‘Yorkshire’ accent sounds like she took cut-price diction lessons from Kate Middleton.
In my mind, I would have preferred a home-grown, English cast to play the major roles, something that worked beautifully in an adaptation of another of Nicholls’ books, ‘Starter for Ten’.
It’s safe to say that the film is a massive let-down, especially when compared to the most graphically pleasing media player in the world: the mind. Whether it ruins the reputation of the fabulous book, however, remains to be seen.
The Book Bit