One Day – David Nicholls

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I loved Starter for Ten and almost rushed out to read One Day when it was first published. I was stopped by a series of negative reviews and having read the book I now understand why. The two are very different and I think fans of one will be unlikely to love the other.

One Day is essentially a romance story following a couple who have a one night stand at university. We glimpse one day of their lives each year for the next twenty years – seeing their ambitions and accomplishemts develop and change.

I loved the beginning of the book. The characters were very well developed, seemingly coming alive on the page. I found their conversations realistic and, at times, moving. Unfortunately I found that the plot lost a lot of momentum in the middle section. 100 pages of this 400+ page book could easily have been removed without loosing anything. The book regained its magic towards the end and I thought the last few chapters were especially powerful.

One Day had far less humor than Starter for Ten and I also felt the extended time period meant that it lacked the magical remisicing power and sense of place. One Day is basically a very well written piece of chick lit and so will have a much narrower group of fans than Starter for Ten. I did enjoy reading the book, but there were times when I felt the plot was contrived in order to fit everything into that one day each year.

Overall it was an entertaining read that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a well written romance, but I’d encourage you to try Starter for Ten first.

Opinion is divided on this one:

I laughed and cried whilst reading this book in one sitting. Savidge Reads

I was less than impressed. Lucybird’s Book Blog

One Day, is at times moving, funny and sad, and then you’ll turn the page and laugh your face off! Highly, Highly recommended. Bart’s Bookshelf

I failed to be moved by the couple’s blindness to one another — and grew tired of reading about more unhappy choices and bitter affairs. Write Meg!

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  1. vivienne says:

    Hmmm, I bought this one recently and had hoped it would be fabulous. I haven’t read Starter For Ten, so I won’t be able to compare. It seems strange to think of a male author producing chick lit. Will give it go though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Vivienne, A lot of people think it is fabulous – it appeared on a lot of ‘best of 2010’ lists. I think you’ll enjoy it more than I did. Fingers crossed :-)

  2. Amy says:

    This doesn’t really interest me at all unfortunately. Glad you still enjoyed it even though it wasn’t as good as the first you read by the author.

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, It is a nice entertaining read, but there is nothing particularly profound or unique about it. From knowing your reading taste I think you are probably right to skip it.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I read this book only because a coworker actually brought it into my office and told me I should read it. Otherwise, it would never have been a book I would have picked up. I agree that the middle was lengthy and unnecessary. There were times that I was pretty bored and also irritated with the characters. The ending was so moving for me though that it made me rethink my whole stance on the book. I would read it all again just for that.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, It sounds as though we had identical feelings on this book. I actually nearly gave up in the middle section and probably would have done if I’d been following my New Year’s resolution correctly. I agree that the ending changed everything. I’m so pleased it ended how it did – it made me appreciate the book much more.

      I disliked the characters and at times I wanted to slap them, but I didn’t think this was a problem – it showed I was fully engaged with them!

      I wouldn’t read it again, but I can see why people love it so much.

  4. Charlie says:

    I can’t say I cared for it much, my opinions basically echo yours. The concept was good but so many times I wished he’d filled one of the days with details from an event he only mentioned. I’d like to read Starter For Ten though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, Starter for Ten is very similar in writing style, but takes place over a much shorter amount of time and so never feels contrived. It gave a perfect snapshot of university life and all the details you want are there. I hope that you decide to read it and enjoy it.

  5. S. Krishna says:

    Interesting review! I hate feeling like books are too long. I haven’t read Starter for Ten, but I’ll consider reading that before One Day. Thanks!

    1. Jackie says:

      S. Krishna, I really hope that you love Starter for Ten. I think I enjoyed it more because it allowed me to reminisce, but I hope there is enough for those outside the UK to love it too.

  6. I just finished this book and really liked it – I felt I could relate with many of the life stage transitions experienced by Em and Dexter. I agree that it dragged for a bit in the middle but just as that started to annoy me the ending completely redeemed the book for me!

    1. Jackie says:

      Colleen, I’ve had quite an easy love life (I married a man I met in school) so haven’t experienced the relationship problems in the book. Perhaps that was another reason why it didn’t resonate with me as much? At least we all love the ending :-)

      1. JoV says:

        oh no, I didn’t like the ending!! :( I thought it was too shocking when Em Em.. you know!!! and I just couldn’t care about the rest of the book after that!

  7. JoV says:

    I like “One Day”, but I am not over the moon about it. There is something missing in there. Now you said it, I really have to read “Starter for Ten” I think it would appeal to me too! :D

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, I agree that there was something missing – especially in the middle section, but I can’t deny that it made me smile a few times and brought a lump to my throat occasionally too. I hope that you enjoy Starter for Ten more.

  8. Brenna says:

    I really enjoyed One Day, but now I’m even more excited to track down Start for Ten.

    1. Jackie says:

      Brenna, I hope that you enjoy Starter fot Ten as much as I did :-)

  9. Sandy says:

    People were definitely bi-polar on this one. I thought the interactions and conversations had chemistry, I thought they were witty in a British kind of way (which is the best way), and I felt like I had known these people all my lives. They made stupid, stupid mistakes but I forgave them because I was invested in them. And I truly believed they were soul mates, but were the last to see it, like When Harry Met Sally. I guess this is just one of those times that the romantic Sandy crawled out from under a rock and refused to be ignored.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I agree with you about the interactions having chemistry and being very true to life. It was an impressive book – just a little too long for the plot.

  10. raidergirl3 says:

    One Day is basically a very well written piece of chick lit

    This was my problem. Since it’s written by a guy, it’s not called chick lit, but that is really all it is. It was cute, a bit light, with a gimmick (once every year check in on the characters).

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, I agree. I think it would have been far better without the gimmick. It would have been much more realistic if we’d seen them at random times over the 20 years instead of on a specific date. I am just a miserable realist though :-(

  11. Lucy says:

    Strangely I didn’t see a negative review before my own. I do wish I’d known what to expect more, I may have preferred it then

    1. Jackie says:

      Lucy, It is always better to know these things in advance :-(

  12. I enjoyed the film version of Starter for Ten – enjoyable with a great soundtrack and the lovely Rebecca Hall.

    it seems like the sort of book you can read in a day. it’s also being made into a film with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Hmm, well Hathaway usually brings some good to the table, hell she made Devil Wears Prada better than it should have been. it’s being written by David Nichols which isn’t surprising seeing as he is a screenwriter.

    1. Jackie says:

      DamnedConjuror, The film version of Starter for Ten was fantastic too! It is one of those rare films that are just as good as the book.

      I’m looking forward to seeing how One Day is adapted – I have a feeling it could be one of those even rarer books where the film is better than the book.

  13. TERESA says:

    I did enjoy this and would have given it 4 stars as you did Jackie. I was surprised that it seems to have had such worldwide appeal as it is very much “child of the 80s” in the UK and that was probably part of its charm for me. I actually think I preferred One Day to Starter for Ten.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, Starter for Ten was centred in 80s UK and that was one of the reasons I loved it so much. I didn’t feel that One Day had that same sense of history and so I can see why it is globally loved. Perhaps many of the references in Starter for Ten will be lost on those living outside UK?

  14. Jenny says:

    It took me a ridiculously long time to notice the same guy had written One Day as Starter for Ten (I haven’t read either of them, so that may be some excuse for me). But I want to read both, in the knowledge that they’re probably not going to be earth-shaking or anything.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, Don’t worry – it sometimes takes me ages to notice that two books are written by the same author! You are not alone :-)

  15. Sakura says:

    I have seen so many people reading this one on the tube on my commute. Not sure if I’ll read this anytime soon (as I’ve got too many books to read!) but the premise does sound interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sakura, Yes. It does seem very popular at the moment – I keep spotting people who are reading it to :-)

  16. Erin says:

    This one has been hanging out on my shelf for a while now. I read so many negative reviews that I kind of got discouraged. I think, though, that now my expectations are different and that I’ll give it a go at some point. I didn’t realize there was another novel; if I don’t like One Day, I’ll have to try Starter for Ten!

    1. Jackie says:

      Erin, It does seem to divide people, but as long as you are expected to be entertained and not educated then you’ll be fine :-)

  17. Meghan says:

    I have seen reviews across the board for this as well. I did get it, but haven’t really given much thought to actually reading it yet. I think with my expectations now, I will probably enjoy it though not love it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, I look forward to finding out what you think of it.

  18. I’m really intrigued by the premise of this one and hope to get to it this week. I haven’t read any of his other work, but I admire authors who write dissimilar books.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, The two books have a lot in common, but this one veers towards the chick-lit side a lot more than his previous book. I hope that you enjoy reading it.

  19. Kathleen says:

    This one has been on my list and my shelf at home for some months now. I know I need to read it soon, before the movie comes out. I hate seeing a movie BEFORE I read the book!

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, I like to read the book first too. I hope that you enjoy it :-)

  20. Meg says:

    Like you, I adored Starter For Ten — it was such a fun, entertaining but moving story! On the other hand, One Day just really didn’t work for me… in fact, I called it my biggest disappointment of 2010! I agree that parts of the plot felt contrived to fit onto that “one day,” and I was really disappointed with how the story evolved . . . I’m hoping I’ll actually like the film better. (Funny when that happens!)

    1. Jackie says:

      Meg, I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was my biggest disappointment (books like Beatrice and Virgil get much closer to that accolade ;-) ) but I am hoping that the film will be better than the book too. I agree – that is a very rare thing to wish for :-)

  21. Jenners says:

    I rather enjoyed this but now I think I need to read Starter for Ten as well.


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