"[An] instant classic. . . . One of the most hilarious and emotionally riveting love stories you’ll ever encounter."--People
"Fluid, expertly paced, highly observed, and at times, both funny and moving." --Boston Globe
"Big, absorbing, smart, fantastically readable." --Nick Hornby, from his blog
"Nicholls offers sharp dialogue and wry insight that sounds like Nick Hornby at his best." --The Daily Beast (A Best Book of the Summer)
David Nicholls trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. He is the author of two previous novels--Starter For Ten and The Understudy. He has also written many screenplays for film and television, including the feature film adaptation of Starter For Ten and One Day. He lives in London.
Friday 15TH July 1988
Rankeillor Street, Edinburgh
'I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference,' she said. 'You know, actually change something.'
'What, like "change the world", you mean?'
'Not the whole entire world. Just the little bit around you.'
They lay in silence for a moment, bodies curled around each other in the single bed, then both began to laugh in low, pre-dawn voices. 'Can't believe I just said that,' she groaned. 'Sounds a bit corny, doesn't it?'
'A bit corny.'
'I'm trying to be inspiring! I'm trying to lift your grubby soul for the great adventure that lies ahead of you.' She turned to face him. 'Not that you need it. I expect you've got your future nicely mapped out, ta very much. Probably got a little flow-chart somewhere or something.'
'So what're you going to do then? What's the great plan?'
'Well, my parents are going to pick up my stuff, dump it at theirs, then I'll spend a couple of days in their flat in London, see some friends. Then France-'
'Then China maybe, see what that's all about, then maybe onto India, travel around there for a bit-'
'Traveling,' she sighed. 'So predictable.'
'What's wrong with travelling?'
'Avoiding reality more like.'
'I think reality is over-rated,' he said in the hope that this might come across as dark and charismatic.
She sniffed. 'S'alright, I suppose, for those who can afford it. Why not just say "I'm going on holiday for two years"? It's the same thing.'
'Because travel broadens the mind,' he said, rising onto one elbow and kissing her.
'Oh I think you're probably a bit too broad-minded as it is,' she said, turning her face away, for the moment at least. They settled again on the pillow. 'Anyway, I didn't mean what are you doing next month, I meant the future-future, when you're, I don't know...' She paused, as if conjuring up some fantastical idea, like a fifth dimension. '...Forty or something. What do you want to be when you're forty?'
'Forty?' He too seemed to be struggling with the concept. 'Don't know. Am I allowed to say "rich"?'
'Just so, so shallow.'
'Alright then, "famous".' He began to nuzzle at her neck. 'Bit morbid, this, isn't it?'
'It's not morbid, it's...exciting.'
' 'Exciting!' ' He was imitating her voice now, her soft Yorkshire accent, trying to make her sound daft. She got this a lot, posh boys doing funny voices, as if there was something unusual and quaint about an accent, and not for the first time she felt a reassuring shiver of dislike for him. She shrugged herself away until her back was pressed against the cool of the wall.
'Yes, exciting. We're meant to be excited, aren't we? All those possibilities. It's like the Vice-Chancellor said, "the doors of opportunity flung wide..."'
'"Yours are the names in tomorrow's newspapers..."'
'Not very likely.'
'So, what, are you excited then?'
'Me? God no, I'm crapping myself.'
'Me too. Christ...' He turned suddenly and reached for the cigarettes on the floor by the side of the bed, as if to steady his nerves. 'Forty years old. Forty. Fucking hell.'
Smiling at his anxiety, she decided to make it worse. 'So what'll you be doing when you're forty?'
He lit his cigarette thoughtfully. 'Well the thing is, Em-'
'"Em"? Who's "Em"?'
'People call you Em. I've heard them.'
'Yeah, friends call me Em.'
'So can I call you Em?'
'Go on then, Dex.'
'So I've given this whole "growing old" thing some thought and I've come to the decision that I'd like to stay exactly as I am right now.'
Dexter Mayhew. She peered up at him through her fringe as he leant against the cheap buttoned vinyl headboard and even without her spectacles on it was clear why he might want to stay exactly this way. Eyes closed, the cigarette glued languidly to his lower lip, the dawn light warming the side of his face through the red filter of the curtains, he had the knack of looking perpetually posed for a photograph. Emma Morley thought 'handsome' a silly, nineteenth-century word, but there really was no other word for it, except perhaps 'beautiful'. He had one of those faces where you were aware of the bones beneath the skin, as if even his bare skull would be attractive. A fine nose, slightly shiny with grease, and dark skin beneath the eyes that looked almost bruised, a badge of honour from all the smoking and late nights spent deliberately losing at strip poker with girls from Bedales. There was something feline about him: eyebrows fine, mouth pouty in a self-conscious way, lips a shade too dark and full, but dry and chapped now, and rouged with Bulgarian red wine. Gratifyingly his hair was terrible, short at the back and sides, but with an awful little quiff at the front. Whatever gel he used had worn off, and now the quiff looked pert and fluffy, like a silly little hat.
Still with his eyes closed, he exhaled smoke through his nose. Clearly he knew he was being looked at because he tucked one hand beneath his armpit, bunching up his pectorals and biceps. Where did the muscles come from? Certainly not sporting activity, unless you counted skinny- dipping and playing pool. Probably it was just the kind of good health that was passed down in the family, along with the stocks and shares and the good furniture. Handsome then, or beautiful even, with his paisley boxer shorts pulled down to his hip bones and somehow here in her single bed in her tiny rented room at the end of four years of college. 'Handsome'! Who do you think you are, Jane Eyre? Grow up. Be sensible. Don't get carried away.
She plucked the cigarette from his mouth. 'I can imagine you at forty,' she said, a hint of malice in her voice. 'I can picture it right now.'
He smiled without opening his eyes. 'Go on then.'
'Alright-' She shuffled up the bed, the duvet tucked beneath her armpits. 'You're in this sports car with the roof down in Kensington or Chelsea or one of those places and the amazing thing about this car is it's silent, 'cause all the cars'll be silent in, I don't know, what - 2006?'
He scrunched his eyes to do the sum. '2004-'
'And this car is hovering six inches off the ground down the King's Road and you've got this little paunch tucked under the leather steering wheel like a little pillow and those backless gloves on, thinning hair and no chin. You're a big man in a small car with a tan like a basted turkey-'
'So shall we change the subject then?'
'And there's this woman next to you in sunglasses, your third, no, fourth wife, very beautiful, a model, no, an ex-model, twenty-three, you met her while she was draped on the bonnet of a car at a motor- show in Nice or something, and she's stunning and thick as shit-'
'Well that's nice. Any kids?'
'No kids, just three divorces, and it's a Friday in July and you're heading off to some house in the country and in the tiny boot of your hover car are tennis racquets and croquet mallets and a hamper full of fine wines and South African grapes and poor little quails and asparagus and the wind's in your widow's peak and you're feeling very, very pleased with yourself and wife number three, four, whatever, smiles at you with about two hundred shiny white teeth and you smile back and try not to think about the fact that you have nothing, absolutely nothing, to say to each other.'
She came to an abrupt halt. You sound insane, she told herself. Do try not to sound insane. 'Course if it's any consolation we'll all be dead in a nuclear war long before then!' she said brightly, but still he was frowning at her.
'Maybe I should go then. If I'm so shallow and corrupt-'
'No, don't go,' she said, a little too quickly. 'It's four in the morning.'
He shuffled up the bed until his face was a few inches from hers. 'I don't know where you get this idea of me, you barely know me.'
'I know the type.'
'I've seen you, hanging round Modern Languages, braying at each other, throwing black-tie dinner parties-'
'I don't even own black-tie. And I certainly don't bray-'
'Yachting your way round the Med in the long hols, ra ra ra-'
'So if I'm so awful-' His hand was on her hip now.
'-which you are.'
'-then why are you sleeping with me?' His hand was on the warm soft flesh of her thigh.
'Actually I don't think I have slept with you, have I?'
'Well that depends.' He leant in and kissed her. 'Define your terms.' His hand was on the base of her spine, his leg slipping between hers.
Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, casual acquaintances during their university years, spend graduation night together. It’s July 15, 1988, and their futures are up in the air. Dexter, the handsome, confident son of a well-to-do family, knows only that he wants “to be successful. . . . to live life to the extreme, but without any mess or complications” [p. 9]. Emma is determined to stay true to her left-leaning passions and ideals though she has little idea of how she’ll do it. They part the next day with vague promises to keep in touch as Dexter sets off to travel the world and Emma returns to her working-class family in Leeds to figure out what she’ll do next. Over the next twenty years, they’ll think about each other, sometimes to meet and reignite a relationship that neither can give up nor explain.
One Day revisits Dexter and Emma every year on the anniversary of their first night together. Each July 15th becomes a snapshot of a particular time and place, offering an irresistible and often hilarious chronicle of the lovers they acquire, the careers they pursue, the culture that influences them, and the opportunities they embrace or squander. As their stories unfold, David Nicholls brilliantly explores the interplay of character and fate that shape our lives.
Emma Morley和Dexter Mayhew在大学中偶然相识，共同度过了他们的毕业之夜。那是1988年7月15日，两人的未来都悬而未决。Dexter这个来自于富裕家庭的自信、英俊的男孩，只知道他未来的梦想是“想要成功…过刺激的生活、但不要有混乱和曲折。”Emma决定面对自己左倾的热情和梦想，但她也不知道该做些什么。第二天他们分开，Dexter去环游世界、Emma返回自己在英国利兹的工薪阶层家庭思考未来做些什么，在分别前二人模糊地约定保持联络。在接下来的20年中，两人挂念着彼此，有时见面重燃这种既不能割舍又难以解释的关系。