**MAJOR SPOILER ALERT**
The conclusion of David Nicholl’s One Day will be revealed in this post.
I should begin by giving my reaction to the moment that Dexter and Emma decide it is time to begin their relationship. Or, by admitting to the fun I had when reading all of the subsequent moments that describe the beautiful life they start to create. But, I can’t. Because regardless of how cheeky and fun their moment in Paris is, when Dexter admits his feelings of desire for Emma and when Emma decides to trust Dexter, and regardless of how wonderfully their life comes together with Jasmine and a barely-civil relationship with Sylvie and Callum, it all comes crashing down at the end of chapter 18. The last sentence of chapter 18 made me close the book and literally throw it down!
I whipped my book at the floor cursing the moment I had decided to read it. I felt so incredibly let down, duped, blindsided because I read through 384 pages to finally see Emma Morely achieve happiness and she dies!??? Are you kidding me???
I understand the need to make novels seem realistic, to avoid happy endings, because for some reason, happy endings are not believable…happy endings apparently are not a part of real life. We live in a world where only sad endings are considered true depictions of real life. Believe me, I have had my fair share of bruising and bumps in my thirty-six years of life, but I am an optimist and I truly believe that happy endings, or at the very least, endings that are positive and hopeful, are possible even in a world that is intent on showing otherwise. Yes, some stories have tragic endings, but not all of them do; although happily-ever-after is a fantasy, it is not the same as a positive ending. So, in a world full of chaos, in a life full of stress, why would I pick up a book that is about a twenty-year friendship and enduring love as a form of escape from my stressful days that will ultimately make me feel awful because even in fiction a happy ending is so hard to obtain? And, I wasn’t necessarily looking for ‘happily ever after’ – but Emma’s death felt utterly unnecessary.
If I wanted real, I would read the newspaper. If I wanted depressing or to witness characters grappling with their tragic flaws until they died or to observe realizations and understandings about the dark side of humanity, I would turn to a Russian classic or at the very least, a good old Shakespearean Tragedy. But, I was sold modern romance. I wanted modern romance and love and the belief that maybe, just maybe, it is possible for love and friendship to remain vibrant after twenty years. And, I was let down.
The novel remained on the floor for a few days before I picked it up. Three Anniversaries awaited – I was not looking forward to reading. And, so, with great anger and pity I read about Dexter falling apart once again because of his loss.
It seems like Nicholls was aware that this would be the reaction of his reader because he attempts to lure us back in with the chapter that follows Emma’s death – Emma and Dexter’s first day is expanded upon. Their nervousness and anxiety is palpable as they try not to show too much interest, but are clearly already completely invested in each other. For me, at least, this is not enough. It increases my feelings of pity for Dexter and I am left with a feeling of waste – similar to feelings one receives about the sudden passing of a loved one – again, I can see what Nicholls is going for here – a dose of reality – but, I’m not sold on it because so much of the novel seems a little unreal. Emma’s sudden authorial success, Dexter’s notoriety in the media, Dexter being able to control his addictions to alcohol, drugs and sex without any help at a whim – none of these things were realistic, so why the sudden need to go real at the end of the novel? I don’t get it.
It is nice to see Dexter’s life coming together, with Maddy, of course, as Emma intuitively foretold. So many questions arise about Dexter’s future, but the time invested into Dexter’s story seems irrelevant since he loses the one person that holds him together. Although, his future seems to hold promise and the letter from Ian of all people does help Dexter, somewhat. I was surprised by the source of the letter, but Nicholls really didn’t have a choice there – next to Dexter, Ian was the person who knew Emma most.
Nicholls leaves us with a more complete picture of the day that started it all. We come full circle back to the day that gave birth to their friendship. A fun, charming moment that becomes more endearing after having read their story.
I started reading this novel as I do every novel – looking forward to being carried away into a story. And, for the most part, the novel delivered. There were many moments of complete disinterest and many laugh out loud moments too. Overall, I enjoyed most of it – but I can honestly say, it’s not one I will be re-reading for the sheer pleasure of it.
I hope your journey with One Day was better than mine!
Stay tuned for our next book club pick! It will be posted soon and discussions will begin after Christmas. In the meantime, I will post reviews weekly on other books.