He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph.
— Nicholls, David (2009-07-23). One Day (Kindle Locations 150-151). Hachette Littlehampton. Kindle Edition.
Having recently commented on ‘Starter for Ten’ with the main thought that I liked ‘One Day’ better, it is only fair of me to actually say why my mind makes it so. Hence, my thoughts on this novel.
To start out, I think that ‘One Day’ is made brilliant by the way we’re taken into the story. This method is taking one day from a number of years showing how the relationship between the two characters progresses. For some reason, it reminds me of Thornton Wilder’s ‘The Ides of March’ that has a letter-structure which immediately appealed to me when I read that book (that was years ago though). ‘One Day’s day-by-day approach is something very similar in many ways, and I think I might just be incredibly biased towards these somewhat more innovative ways of storytelling. So, I’d say that it could be worth approaching this part of my praise with a pinch of salt…
From the above, the reader can take away that I am very appeased by the way the story has been built. And that is true with more than the style and method employed — the way in which Mr Nicholls manages to include letters, postcards, and thoughts in the story is quite remarkable. To bring a rather bad example, if something in a letter of his character’s gets crossed out, that fact remains there (for us). Which is, after all, what actually happens. The thought was there, only in a maybe censored for the other people (but how often is it actually censored for the others?).
To jump back to an earlier point, it could be that the comparison with ‘The Ides of March’ is a bit more apt for the return and rehash of events that slowly comes to pass. Yes, we go onwards in time, but we also go back. In the end, we learn of the day that Dexter and Emma could have had, and we learn of what they had. And that discovery is very much to my liking. It is built in a climatic and beautiful way, and I believe I can appreciate that in a novelists style.
I also don’t think I’m wrong if I say that the characters here feel more real to me than in other works by Mr Nicholls that I’ve read. It could just be that I can better relate to their human search in a life after university, but there’s certainly something appealing for me there. There’s the question of what shall I do tomorrow, and how shall I do it with. And those questions are always worth asking.
Anything else I should note? Probably… Namely, I’ve heard that some people have not quite always appreciated the ending for this book. I understand the wish to not like it… but I would also say that it feels believable for me. It builds on another way of looking at life, and that way should remind us of what every day is there for.
What is your tomorrow for?
He’s a better person when she’s around, and isn’t that what friends are for, to raise you up and keep you at your best?
— Nicholls, David (2009-07-23). One Day (Kindle Locations 2382-2383). Hachette Littlehampton. Kindle Edition.