One Day by David Nicholls

It’s the incisive vitality and wit of the writing, the ability Nicholls has to find an edge of comedy in familiar scenarios and details that makes One Day a hugely enjoyable read. Brilliant one-liners are as relentless as satellite discs on any slightly seedy suburban street. What finally lets it down a bit is the gimmicky form – concentrating on a single same day every year. Because after a while you begin to feel this novel could go on forever without really getting anywhere – unless he kills off one or both of his characters. Emma, the female character, is too good to be true and Dexter, the male, is too bad to be true. But this is comedy, social satire so we’re more than happy to suspend disbelief – until perhaps there is this sense that we’re participating more in a sit-com where the bigger picture never requires resolution than a novel where it does. But, in terms of evoking the quintessence of an era, Nicholls almost does for the 80s and 90s what Fitzgerald did for the 20s and 30s.

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