Author: David Nicholls
Published: Vintage Books; 2009
Genre: Literary fiction
Source: Personal copy
Synopsis: The episodic story takes place during a single day each year for two decades in the lives of Dex and Em. Dexter, the louche public school boy, and Emma, the brainy Yorkshire lass, meet the day they graduate from university in 1988 and run circles around one another for the next 20 years. Dex becomes a TV presenter whose life of sex, booze, and drugs spins out of control, while Em dully slogs her way through awful jobs before becoming the author of young adult books. They each take other lovers and spouses, but they cannot really live without each other.
My Take: I have been seeing this book everywhere and I am sure you have been too! If you haven't already read it than you probably know that there is a movie coming out about it very soon! We are talking mid-August. The reviews I'd been reading made it sound like my kind of book before I even knew there was a movie for it and once there was a movie, I pushed it up my reading schedule and was glad I did. It was quite the emotional read and I think it will play very well as a movie too.
If you enjoy British fiction and melodramatic books you will enjoy this novel. If you don't this may not be the book for you. The story, while I found it a page turner, and a great summer read, hangs with a kind of sad drama throughout the entirety of it. But I am getting ahead of myself! Let's start at the beginning and set the story up so you know why you'd want to stick with it.
First we have Emma and Dexter, or more affectionately Em and Dex. Two university students who hook up one drunken night. It could have all just ended there as it so often does but instead of the next morning being awkward and weird they decide to go for a walk and get to know each other a little better and a friendship starts instead. Not a love affair, but a friendship. So lives continue and time marches on.
This book, while maybe a little formulaic, is also slightly unusual in that we only see our two main characters once a year for twenty years on the exact same day: July 15th. We see how their lives progress, how they grow and age, both with and without each other. It's fascinating, beautiful, and heart-breaking. You want Dex to get over himself and stop being such a druggie, self indulging classist and you want Em to root for herself a little more, to have some more self-respect and just try a little harder. But eventually they do grow up and their lives ultimately change completely. To say more, would always ruin a book for you.
For me, the one problem with this novel was the fact that I, someone who almost never figures out the ending in a book, knew the ending within the first fifty pages. I hoped it wouldn't be the case but when it was I wasn't surprised. I felt that's exactly what this was building towards the whole time and it was a bit of a letdown. However, I still really enjoyed the book and would certainly recommend it to anyone who asked. I also think it would make a great book for book clubs because it brings up so many interesting points about relationships, and unlike most 'chick-lit' books, this one is based a little more in reality.
Cover Lust: I love this cover! It looks like pop art to me!