Life

Radio review: Insight into making of a bestseller

Nuala McCann

Bookclub David Nicholls - One Day Radio 4

David Nicholls was an actor and is a screen writer.

He is candid about his lack of success in the world of acting and attractively humble about his huge success as an author.

The book club choice was One Day, the will-they-won't-they story of Emma and Dexter. It is a romantic comedy but it stands apart from the run-of-the-mill. It has more heart.

The leading characters get together on their last day at university in Edinburgh in the 1980s. We meet them on the same day – 15 July – every year for 20 years. It is a beautiful rollercoaster of a story – at times, touching and at times, very funny.

For anyone of the same vintage the stockpile of musical and 1980s references, the laugh-out-loud moments and the “loadsamoney” chatter is priceless.

Nicholls has had huge success with One Day. But he doesn't want to be defined by that book – he has written many others. This was a light chatty and jokey Bookclub.

The author confessed he had not picked his book up in four years and, when he did, in preparation for this very conversation, he had found it was “better than he expected”.

His candour was refreshing.

The talk was lively. Like his characters, Nicholls has sparkling wit and his secret, in this book was to pick one day a year to tell the story. Picking a random day, Nicholls told the book club, you avoid the first kiss, the wedding day, the childbirth scene.

But, by the end of that one day a year for 20 years, readers have grown to love these two.

His character, Dexter, can be slick and complacent. Back in the 80s, he said: “Certain people seemed to have a terrific sense of entitlement, I used to observe that and feel a little bit jealous,” he confessed.

The characters' names are “Dexter because it contains an X and a hint of sex. Emma is more of a murmur or a mumble. His is more confident and hers more tentative.”

This was an author that lit up the book club and sent listeners who haven't enjoyed the novel off to add to the 8 million copies already sold.

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