A few months ago my friend, Courtney of Abducted By Books, was in between book club selections and we came up with the idea to both read the book that my book club was reading, One Day by David Nicholls, and then do a joint post. That was back in December… because that’s how long it took to make this awesome post.
Courtney: For those of you who don’t know about this novel here is the plot in a
nutshell. The main characters are Dexter and Emma. They went to college
together in England but they didn’t really meet and start to form a
friendship until the day of their graduation. They graduated on July
14th 1988, they go home together, they talk through the night and end up
spending the entire next day together, July 15th . Which is where the
novel picks up. From that point on each chapter is July 15th of the
following year through July 15th 2007.
Now here is what we thought:
1. ON THE WRITING STYLE AND SET UP
Courtney: As I got further into the novel I was constantly amazed at how well written it was. I mean on the surface you are only seeing these characters one day out of each year so it begs the questions; how can they possibly be fully developed or how can you as the reader feel that you are really connected with them? I know that was my main hesitation and honestly I don’t have any answers. I cannot dissect how David Nicholls does what he does but I promise you that One Day is smart and witty and you as the reader will come to care for these characters and their struggles and triumphs. I would also like to add that it was extremely refreshing to get to read a book that allows its characters to grow and evolve in ways that you would naturally expect people to over twenty years.
Kate: I loved the idea of revisiting Em and Dex on the same day each year. But I also felt that the title of the book was like a promise- that one day Em and Dex would get their act together, that one day the one thing the reader is really rooting for will happen. Back to the revisiting of one day out of each year, I can’t help but wonder how that would look in my own life. The writing style was, to me, wonderful. The book flowed and made for a page turning read. I wanted, needed, to know what happened to Em and Dex year after year, my fingers crossed each time.
Courtney: Wow, Kate! I never picked up on the whole promise of the title thing! That is brilliant!!! I think if you checked in with me on the same day each year it would be really boring. I can guarantee it! I also wandered about that when I was reading the book and it kind of bothered me that July 15th always seemed to be such an interesting day for them. I kept waiting for either of them to make a reference to it like; “Hey, can you believe it was five years ago today that we met?” But they never did.
Kate: Yeah, mine would be pretty lame too. What, she’s eating and reading, again? Except Halloween. I almost always do something for Halloween. But if you’re not a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan, then perhaps my yearly Halloween activities would smack me right back into the lame category.
2. IMPRESSIONS ON DEX AND EM
Kate: Honestly I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t like either Emma or Dexter. The first chapter failed to make me like either of them overly much. It wasn’t until Dex wrote that letter to Emma that he won my heart, and Emma captured it the second year as well. I was afraid that the main characters were going to be stereotypes- rich playboy, poor working girl. Thankfully they both turned out so much more complex! In the end both Dexter and Emma created a friendship so deep and lasting that I couldn’t help but cry during their low points and cheer along with their triumphs.
Courtney: I feared their relationship was only one-sided. On the surface it would be really easy to say that Emma cared for Dexter more than he did for her. But once you get further in I don’t think that was ever true. I think that even in the beginning Dexter always felt drawn to her and depended on her in ways that even he couldn’t comprehend. Emma brought out the very best in him and he gave very little to her in return.
3. SUPPORTING ROLES
Courtney: I loved so many of the supporting characters. My favorite, however, was probably Dexter’s father. He was just such a sweet old man with so many touching moments through out the novel. The scene when Dexter showed up at his parents house completely drunk and his dad has to drive him to the train station, oh God, I was crying. And then in the end when Dexter goes to stay with his dad and they have that moment in front of the television, ugh, killed me.
Kate: I liked Ian at first. I wanted him to be a funny, light hearted character. I felt Emma deserved a healthy relationship, but Ian let me down. Not only wasn’t he funny, he was moody and whiny. And although I disliked her at first, in the end I really liked Sylvie. I also liked Dex’s relationship with his mom. She always knew how much Em meant to him. Courtney: Yeah, I really liked Sylvie in the end. She was really good to Dex. But remember how CRAZY her family was!!! That whole scene was sooooo uncomfortable!
Courtney: I hated Ian though. I always felt like there was something just off about him and I couldn’t see how Emma could get involved with him. I didn’t like him in the beginning, at no point did he grow on me, and I think by the end of the book I was actually quite angry with him.
Kate: Ah! Sylvie’s family! What a bunch of crazypants! It was so funny, what Dex does to Sylvie though. Not that I condone violence towards women, but they were all kind of asking for it.
4. FAVORITE LINES
Courtney: My favorite line was: “She doesn’t want an amusing story, she wants change, a break, not anecdotes. Her life has been stuffed with anecdotes, an endless string of the bastards, now she wants something to go right for once. She wants success, or at least the hope of it.” I’m thinking about using part of that for when we get our literary tattoos. The “she wants change…not anecdotes” part.
Kate: And here’s mine. It comes towards the end of the book: “Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.”
5. THOUGHTS ON THE MOVIE
Courtney: How do you feel about David Nicholls being the one to write the screen play for the film version? Do you think he will keep the one day a year format or drop it so the film version can flow better?
Kate: I’d be pretty pissed if they changed the whole formula of the one day premise for the movie. If they don’t use that then what’s the point of making a movie out of it? I’m a little weary that the move will get a rom com white wash to it, because for me the book is not chick lit.
Courtney: Yeah, that is my fear. I don’t want them to change for format of the book but I can see them doing it and just having it be another romantic comedy. But, since David Nicholls is doing the screen play I’m trying to have some faith! I’m really excited about Jim Sturgess playing Dex. I re-watched the movie 21 this weekend and all I can say is anyone out there who is doubting his abilities to be Dex should watch that movie. I’m not saying the movie itself it great, I’m saying HE is great in it. I got word of him playing Dexter early on so I did have him in mind while reading and I can’t imagine any other actor playing that part better. However, if I was forced to select a different actor based on looks, I would have picked the guy shown HERE
Kate: I’m fine with the casting, but I wasn’t aware of who was playing whom when I read the novel. When we decided that we were going to pick our own actors for the roles, that’s exactly what I did. The actor I had in mind for Dex can be found HERE, although interestingly enough I did not pick a fair haired actor, despite the book’s description of Dexter.
Courtney: Yeah, my actor selection for Dex is literally only based on the fact that he is blond, has an accent, and is attractive but not too attractive. I’m so not a fan of Anne Hathaway. I can’t explain it I just haven’t seen a movie of hers that I actually liked since Ella Enchanted. So I’m not happy for her to be playing Emma. To see my selection for Emma click HERE
Kate: I am a fan of Anne Hathaway’s, but I think my pick for Emma is even better. Sometimes I really like Anne- Ella Enchanted, Rachel At The Wedding, Valentine’s Day, and other times I dislike her- Devil Wears Prada, Bride Wars and Havoc (I seriously could not hate this movie more if I tried). I do think she’s a wonderful actress, but my Em is the true Em. Unfortunately it looks like the movie is in post production so it’s unlikely that this glaring mistake can be fixed. For those of you interested in the REAL Em click HERE
Courtney: Oh, my God, I HATED Devil Wears Prada!!! I thought I was a lone on this but lately I have found a lot of other girls coming forward with there distaste for it! Yeah, the movie is in post production and have you seen some of the stills for it? I saw one that I think is supposed to be Anne Hathaway during Emma’s early years and it is scary!
6. THE END
Courtney: It would only be fair to inform our readers that you did warn me about the ending before I got there. Kate knows me well enough to know that when it comes to certain endings, if I’m not warned it will ruin the book for me. And you didn’t tell me straight out how it ended you just prepared me for an upset. However, I was preparing myself for it to be Dexter that died so I was still shocked when it went the other way. After seeing Dexter and Emma through their trials and tribulations, it was actually really hard for me to believe that they were going to have a happy ending. Even when they got together and were planning the wedding, I was holding my breath waiting for Dexter to do something to screw it up, which he very easily could have done. So, I guess I felt like having one of them die was actually quite poignant.
Kate: As much as I loved this book, the ending ripped my heart out. I wanted Em and Dex to make a million mini-me’s. I wanted them to have some time for happiness. In my opinion, Em got screwed. At least Dex had some fun during his younger years, Em had loneliness and failed relationships. Of course, it’s my strongly held belief that one should only bicycle on park paths or on boardwalks at the beach, so although the ending shocked me it really shouldn’t have. Nothing good comes of biking on the road, people! Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s healthier for the body and the environment. Try car pooling, and avoid tragic endings. Although the ending broke my heart, how Dexter turned out in the end helped heal it some. Seeing the day after they met helped it to end on a more positive note. I’ll read David Nicholls in the future- but I’ll put on my weary pants first. I hope he’s not going to be one of those authors who feels it necessary to have someone die in order to tell a moving story.