While meandering through Spitalfields market one afternoon, I saw a copy of David Nicholls’ One Day sat on a table full of £3 novels. Its cover caught my eye, but instead I purchased a copy of Dorian Grey. All the way home my boyfriend insisted I read One Day, and reminded me that he had in fact leant me the book several weeks ago.
A week later I cracked open the cover; in two days I had devoured the whole thing. And I had fallen in love with Emma Morley.
In my head Emma doesn’t look like Anne Hathaway, but that’s beside the point and has no bearing on my overwhelming girl crush. Over the course of several decades Emma Morley metamorphosizes into a woman that you can’t help but love. At first her adolescent contrarian chatter and opinionated stubbornness perturbed me. She was an echo of every girl I went to university with – including myself. But what Emma does that keeps her endearing is she grows. She evolves. And she fails.
She isn’t a waif of a Disney princess to idolize. She isn’t a victim or a heroine; she isn’t a matriarch or a martyr. Emma Morley is entirely well rounded and real. She lives and breathes on the page and entices you into her world, and I found the more I read the more I wanted to be her best friend.
The beauty of the novel is the way it speeds through time without omitting particular and crucial details to the characters’ development. In Emma’s case, you watch her stumble and fall and get back up. For those in our mid-twenties, it’s a plight that you not only empathize with, but that you may be experiencing on a daily basis.
Just when her inability to break out of her own downward spiral might start to be too much, and you feel like you want to shed that dead-weight friend who just can’t get her life together, Emma resurrects herself. What once was stubbornness turns into strength. Whether in quitting her job, ending her defunct relationship with Ian, or putting herself out there time and again, the quality that once induced impatient eye rolls has now become something to emulate.
Your heart breaks with hers, and breaks for her, at the book’s end. But what Emma leaves you with is a sense that perseverance and staying true to yourself is of the utmost importance if you want to carve out an iota of happiness in this world. I was glad to have Emma Morley as my friend for those 48 hours, and the impact of my girl-crush on this powerful figure will not soon be forgotten.