If you’re making an international relocation to London, you’re likely (hopefully) researching as much about your new home as you can. London Relocation agents, for one, will play a big part in making the unfamiliar familiar to you so your relocation is fast and seamless. And they can speak to not just the London property market, but the local lifestyle and culture that will become as much a part of your everyday as your new London apartment. So that takes a lot of pressure off you, giving you more time to just kick and read something for pleasure. And that’s where I come in. If you’ve read any of my previous “London Literacy” posts, you’ll know that my English teacher/reader/writer self loves any poetry or prose set in this fine literary city, and I often encounter it whether I want to or not! The UK’s just a hub like that, as you’ll find for yourself when you move to London…it’s an interesting intersection of the world. So then, while your London Relocation agent will show you 18-25 properties in just one day, I’m going to tell you about my most recent read, One Day.
This has been a Kindle bestseller and is now also known for its new film version starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. It seems to be the usual case where the book is better than the movie where reviews go. I haven’t yet seen the film, but I loooved the book. As the title would imply, One Day by David Nicholls is about one day…but not just one year. It follows its two main characters, Dexter and Emma, over the course of two decades on the anniversary of the same day they first become friends and initiate some major sexual tension. This tension ensues as life takes them on separate paths that converge and diverge while the two friends tread the fine line of platonic and romantic love. The characterization is so well developed; Em and Dex feel very real with all their flaws and virtues and the way their different personalities and intellects bounce off each other. To hate a character like Dexter most of the way through and still have him endear himself in the end is really saying something. And dialogue and narration both are tremendously witty; I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud so much reading a novel, so I wasn’t prepared for how much it would then move me as well. Just when it seemed like a light read, it became something very human and touching, and it’s one of those stories that lingered with me long after I’d finished. And it’s largely set in London. (There it is! This post does have some relevance to this blog!) In addition to being a very fun read, I as a London expat of course got a kick out of recognizing the locations of its settings.
Though it starts out in Edinburgh, Scotland, the book eventually features neighborhoods like Soho, Hampstead, Highgate, Earls Court, Hackney, Richmond and…shoot, I can’t remember them all, but you’ll find out when you read it! It gives more a sense of the real city where people really live versus the big sites where the tourists frolic. And also makes you question: does the NHS still provide hideous, standard-issue eyeglasses like that? 😉 You see London from the middle-to-lower class day-to-day, just-gotta-pay-the-bills perspective to the affluent, city-is-your-playground one—and even then, all that glitters is not gold. All around, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it, particularly if you’re making the move yourself one day!