Saturday, April 24, 2010
One Day should come with a health warning attached: This Book is Seriously Addictive. I began to read it on a Thursday afternoon, while the children were at football practice and apart from a dinner date with my husband when I ranted endlessly about the disillusion that men and women can ever be friends I continued to read it to the very last sentence – I could not put it down!
The last time I lost myself in a life story was when I was addicted to ‘Cold Feet’ and could watch an entire series in one sitting - so it is perhaps interesting to note here that David Nicholls, the author of One Day wrote the screenplays for the third series of Cold Feet...
One Day is the story of Emma and Dexter who meet at their university graduation, 15 July 1988. Emma is earnest and industrious; she has a double first; she holds strong political views, wears NHS specs and has terrible hair. As Dexter observes when he meets her -‘the problem with these fiercely individualistic girls was that they were all the same.’
Dexter is lazy and lewd, from a privileged background, spoilt and good looking, directionless; ‘he wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random it would be a cool photograph.’
I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same – No, No, No, stop right now, it’s never going to work. She’s always going to be grateful he looked at her; he’s always going to take her for granted.
And even though I do not approve of recreational sex the kindest thing that could have happened to Emma the night of her graduation was a quick student shag, wake up and find him gone, never see him again; something to laugh about when she’s forty...
Instead Emma and Dexter spend the night talking about what they hope to achieve in life, and by morning they have become ‘friends’.
And for the next twenty years, a chapter a year, through comprehensive school teaching, car crash television, drugs, a cancer stricken mother, a broken engagement, a failed marriage, Cool Britannia and beyond – Emma and Dexter remain ‘friends’.
Except Emma and Dexter cannot be friends for Emma is in love with Dexter, and Dexter loves only himself; the closest he gets to affection or love is to write to her, while drunk: “You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life, it would be this. Confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle.’
Finally Emma breaks away from him to live her own life in Paris. But like a terminal disease he follows her and reels her back into his clutches. Without the slightest hesitation she gives up her new life to be with him. (“Stop Emma, don’t do it,” I shouted, but she wouldn’t listen to me).
Endlessly supportive and loyal and loving, she uses her own cash to set him up in a business (where he flirts with the woman he works with)...
Just as I predicted: she was always going to be grateful he looked at her; he was always going to take her for granted.
VERDICT: I wish I could have got Emma to read the book of her life, the day of her graduation. For I know a smart girl like her would have run away screaming when she saw Dexter coming.