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David Nicholls discusses the resurgence of his novel One Day on the bestseller list, attributing it to a sense of nostalgia among readers.

David Nicholls discusses the resurgence of his novel One Day on the bestseller list, attributing it to a sense of nostalgia among readers.


The television version of One Day, featuring Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod, quickly became the top show on the UK Netflix chart upon its debut this month. As a result, the book that inspired the adaptation has also returned to the bestsellers chart, 15 years after its initial release.

David Nicholls, the author, admits that the plot of Dexter and Emma, who reunite yearly on St Swithin’s Day for 20 years, was inspired by romcoms like When Harry Met Sally. He wanted to create a story that was filled with sentiment and fondness, paying homage to romantic comedies while also exploring the complexities of life and death, the successes and struggles of our careers, and the uncertainties of our younger years.

Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod in a scene from the Netflix series One Day.View image in fullscreen

Nicholls, who is 57 years old, originally intended to write a book for his generation – those who grew up in the 70s and 80s. However, upon its release in 2009, he was pleasantly surprised to find that it was also being read by younger readers, such as Ambika who read it when she was a teenager. Now, Nicholls’ daughter informs him that her friends are watching and becoming enamored with the characters Dexter and Emma, even though their story takes place in the past. This brings great excitement to Nicholls as well.

Kim Kardashian, with a whopping 364 million followers on Instagram, has publicly endorsed the show as a good choice for anyone in need of a good cry. This is especially humorous to Nicholls, considering the show’s focus on the struggles of working in a rundown restaurant in Camden during the early 90s and living in less-than-ideal accommodations. The thought of her watching it on a large TV screen is quite amusing.

Nicholls expressed gratitude towards the team responsible for the production, describing them as a delight to collaborate with. He acknowledged that the dynamic between a writer and those adapting their work can be contentious, as a significant aspect of the process involves omitting content. This can provoke defensiveness and a sense of intrusion, akin to someone rearranging furniture in one’s home. However, Nicholls never felt that he was relinquishing authority.

The decision to air this type of story on television, spanning 14 episodes, felt risky because typically, shows of this nature rely on unexpected turns, major events, and killings to keep viewers engaged. However, the creator was pleasantly surprised that not only did viewers stick with it until the end, but some even rewatched it multiple times. After all, what is more captivating than love? The creator has always believed that falling in love and meeting someone is often the most significant occurrence in a person’s life, shaping their future.

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Nicholls is a well-known author who has published many successful books, such as Starter For Ten in 2003 and Us in 2014. He has also been involved in various films and TV projects, including Patrick Melrose in 2018. However, his most widely recognized work is One Day. This book has been incredibly successful, selling over 3 million copies in the UK and 6 million worldwide in 40 different languages. Recently, there has been a significant increase in attention towards the book, which has been quite a profound experience for the author.

“I penned the book in my early 40s, around the same age as Dexter at the end of the novel. It was driven by a sense of longing for my 20s and 30s,” he explains. “As a new parent, I was bidding farewell to that stage of life focused on launching a career, dating, and enjoying oneself.”

However, upon reflection, he now expresses a sense of deep regret regarding the passing of time. He feels that time has a way of speeding up, causing him to lose friends and loved ones, and leaving him with a sense of remorse. There is now a twofold feeling of nostalgia attached to this passage – nostalgia for the time period it captures (1988-2007), but also nostalgia for the time in which it was written.

“I am nearly two decades older now and it’s mostly about the things that elude me. To me, One Day holds a slightly different meaning, something tinged with more wistfulness.”

Source: theguardian.com