Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

One Day by David NichollsI read two other books by this author already so I was quite keen to read One Day. I heard good and bad things about it, but since I liked both Starter for Ten andThe Understudy, I had good hopes for this book.

And yes, I enjoyed it a lot. I found the beginning a bit slow going but after a while, this book turned out to be the exact sort of book for me.

I’ve been lucky recently, with some really good reads!

One Day: What it is about

In One Day, the events around two people, Emma and Dexter, are described over a period of 20 years, but only for one particular day in the year. That day is July, 15th and the story starts in 1988.

That first day, Emma and Dexter are at university and have just gotten to know each other. Both wouldn’t mind taking things a step further, but somehow they don’t and they become friends instead.

During the 20 years their lives and fortunes go up and down and some years they hardly speak to each other. But on July 15th, every year, they either meet or think about each other, without fail.

One Day: What I thought

It won’t be much use to you if I say that this was just the sort of book for me. But it was. It was a good read, that stayed interesting until the end. Emma and Dexter didn’t always make the right decisions, and weren’t even nice and likeable during some of the years.

The story was believable and somehow the lives of dull Emma and (sometimes) exciting Dexter were described in such a way that I wanted to keep reading and see where they were after 20 years.

It was rather unlikely that every year, on July 15th (which was not a particularly special date for them), they happened to meet up or that some big event happened exactly on that day. But that didn’t matter, that date was rather arbitrary anyway.

The story was written very fluently, and in the end comes together quite well (although the ending isn’t very nice) . The book is about relationships and friendship, and about the changing lives of students into middle-aged people.

Rating: 5/5 stars

I got this book: from a recent bookswap

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages:438

First published: 2009

Genre: contemporary fiction

Extras: Jackie of Farm Lane Books liked it slightly less than I did and that’s also true for Jo of Bibliojunkie, while Lucy of Lucybird’s Book Blog likes it even less.

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

28 Responses to Book Review: One Day by David Nicholls

  1. How do you think The Understudy compares to his other books? I enjoyed Starter for Ten much more than One Day, but have heard a few bad things about The Understudy and so haven’t read it yet.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jackie, I don’t seem to have any notes on *The Understudy* so I can’t remember much about it, but I’m sure I liked it less than *Starter for Ten* .

  2. You may rank me with those who liked it a little bit less than you. Or maybe I should say that I liked it well enough but didn’t quite get what all the hype was about. Don’t know if I can post a link here, but I’ll try anyway:

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks for the link to your review, Marleen. I of course read the book a while after the hype and had meanwhile heard a lot of contradicting stories about it so I kept an open mind.

  3. Mrs.B. says:

    I’m glad you liked this. I loved this book too! Funny, because I just could not get through Starter for 10. One Day though was immensely readable and yes, though the characters weren’t perfect, it didn’t matter at all and in fact made them more real. I cried so much when I read the last quote about Emma just needing confidence.

  4. I have been avoiding this book, probably because there has been so much hype around it that it has put me off! That said, I absolutely LOVED Starter for Ten and I also enjoyed The Understudy (althought not nearly as much). Should I bite the bullet and give this a go?

  5. Nadine Nys says:

    I think I would like this too, Judith. Maybe another one for the list, or should I start with one of the author’s other books?

  6. I’m glad you enjoyed this one… can I be honeest and tell you I all but hated this book…. ugh. I listened to it and it was torture. I didn’t think the characters would be drawn to each other. Dex is just about the most unlikeable person I have read in a book.

    This is exactly what I love about having book friends, we can actually talk about books. Some we like, some we don’t. We shouldn’t all enjoy the same novels.

    July 23rd is a day when things seem to happen in my life… for 20 years. From getting dogs to closing on homes, to moving or going to a party. It’s strange but the only reason I know this date is because it happens to be the birthday from someone from my childhood (a friend). Not every year but enough to make me wonder why…

    • Leeswammes says:

      Haha, Mari, yes, of course you should be honest! I know there are quite a few people out there who didn’t like the book. I wasn’t sure what to expect after hearing all these “bad” stories about it. I agree that Dex wasn’t nice, but he is not the most unpleasant person I’ve come across in a book.

      How funny you also have a date that special things keep happening! I wouldn’t know – as you say you only remembered because the date means something for you.

      • I have heard the movie hasn’t been a big hit… I am curious to see how they produce something over just one day/many years. Will you see the movie?

      • Leeswammes says:

        I’m not sure, Mari. I am not particularly interested in the movie. Like you say, how can they fit all these years in just one movie? They probably just lift some years out and leave the rest.

  7. I’m glad you enjoyed this book. My daughter loved it, but told me I’d hate the ending, so I’ve been avoiding it. I think it sounds lovely though!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Col, you could of course read the first chapter or so, and see what it’s like.

      I want to do that with some of my TBR books – read the first chapter and if they don’t pass the “like-it” test, they are going to disappear off my shelves forever.

  8. I wasn’t blown away by this one BUT the ending did make a big impact on me! Without that, the book would have been a waste for me.

  9. JoV says:

    After this book I itching to read the other two you have mentioned but never found the time. That will be the day I read about it but I think Starter for Ten should be better than this. I don’t like to read about losers, and Dexter is big one! 🙂

  10. Suzanne says:

    I was so disappointed with the ending, but I did enjoy this book as well. The movie version was just released here a few weeks ago but it hasn’t been getting good reviews.
    I’ll need to check out his other novels since you’ve enjoyed them.

    p.s. I’m a fan of Nick Hornby as well — have you read How to be Good?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, the ending was rather different than I was expecting, but I could live with it.

      I had to look it up, but yes, I did read *How to be Good* and I gave it 4 stars. I remember being annoyed by this “healer” but annoyed in a nice way (i.e., that didn’t take away my overall enjoyment of the book). * A Long Way Down * is my favorite.

  11. Matthew ( says:

    My Mum really enjoyed this, and Nicholls’s other books. Having just finished One Day, I must admit I was fairly disappointed. I didn’t like the characters at all – particularly Dexter – and the plot all felt fairly predictable to me (in the sense that there was plenty of foreshadowing). It wasn’t awful, but certainly wasn’t fantastic either.

    My review: One Day by David Nicholls

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks for the link to your review, Matthew, I will check it out. I did like One Day a lot – it wasn’t too predictable for me.

      • Matthew ( says:

        Thanks, I hope you enjoy it 🙂

        I certainly, didn’t see the big twist at the end coming – eek!

  12. Pingback: New Books Have Arrived! January and February 2012 | The Books of Life!

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