Hellllllo readers; I was writing a top ten Tuesday post for next week and I decided to do top ten books if you’re in the mood for romance and this sprung to mind. SO, I did a little searching on my blog and saw I HAD NEVER REVIEWED IT. Before anyone says anything – I hold my hands up and say, yes the film wasn’t great, okay it was closer to a car crash but the book is definitely much, much better. So, without further delay onto the reviewww.
It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another.
Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.
Twenty years, two people, one day.
So, as the blurb suggests the book spans a number of decades, but singles out the 15th of July – the destined anniversary between our two main characters, Emma Morley from Yorkshire, an utter darling and also Dexter Mayhew, a cocky, over-confident male from the Cotswolds. Two complete opposites that meet on the 15th of July in 1988 on the last day of their university days in Edinburgh and we follow their annual updates going forward. Simple eh.
So, what’s it like? Well this tale is utterly beautiful. Yes, as like in the film we follow Emma’s struggle with post-university life, working in a horrible Tex-Mex restaurant in North London. Dexter however is living a pretty happy life, working in TV, presenting an early 90’s late-night youth program. Think Top of the Pop’s kinda thing but ruder, maybe. We watch as Emma becomes a teacher and finds a boyfriend, Ian a hopeless comedian – whilst Dexter is taking a cocktail of drugs. We watch as the television show fails and the relationship between the two begins to fail. We continue through the book as their relationship continues to flourish and then flounder.
So, the nitty gritty. So what makes this book so special? Well, it’s bloody funny. The film is a downtrodden tale that just feels utterly dejected but the book is full of humour and quips. Ian’s “tracky botts,” the Headmaster’s beard, the proposal using a ring covered in calamari – there are some real laugh out loud cracks. The writing is soulful and full of warmth; underneath everything, the life struggles, the unknown, there is a beautiful friendship that is told through the anniversary of the day they met. Unlike the film that has a cold clarity to it, the pages are filled with love and real life friendship. In the book the narrative revolves around the friendship that grows as the two finally understand each other – not like in the film where it is clunky and manufactured.
I think the main problem with the film was that they knew the ending – they knew where it was going and they focused too heavily on making the main characters as contrasting as possible which made them both unlikeable and annoying. In the book Emma is intelligent, thoughtful but gutsy, in the film she feels very, needy, and obsessed with Dexter. In the book yes Dexter is a bit of an arse but it’s a boyish way – not in the arrogant way the film portrays him.
I don’t know whether I’ve done this book justice, but the main thing to take away is the book is so much more than the film. It has heart, it has thought, it’s funny and written with warmth. Basically it’s a darn sight better than the film and most definitely worth a read.