One Day by David Nicholls

read by Julian Rhind-Tutt

One Day has all the hallmarks of genuine confession and regret. It records with wit and verisimilitude the tragicomic relationship between ill-matched friends/lovers Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, who first meet on 15 July 1988, the last day as students in Edinburgh, and it charts their lives on that same Saint Swithin's day as they grow apart and grow up. Emma makes her working-class, northern English journey just as Dexter succeeds in his middle-class, Cotswolds shallowness.

The book is an entertaining if saddening collision of optimistic yearning and inevitable disappointment. Emma measures out her life in coffee spoons as a waitress in a Tex-Mex restaurant in Kentish Town before giving up to become a teacher (with the added indignities of adultery with the head). Ever loyal to Dexter, in desperation, she marries the ridiculous Ian. Never loyal to Emma, Dexter finds a job in television and lives the stereotypical cocaine-fuelled hedonisitc life of the transient presenter.

If it wasn't all quite so sad, humour might predominate. But, I suspect that readers of a certain generation will identify too closely with one or other of the protagonists to find the work entirely comfortable listening. Emma's late success as an author of teenage fiction is, inevitably, short-lived. But One Day makes me look forward to David Nicholls' next few books. One day he is going to write a masterpiece.

Already achieving great acclaim when broadcast by BBC Radio Four, One Day is wonderfully read by Julian Rhind-Tutt, who seems to have been very busy in the front of the microphone recently. And so good it is to have great actors reading great books. What better way is there to pass the time?

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