One Day - Chapter 9 - 16 Summary & Analysis

David Nicholls (writer)
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Chapter 9 - 16 Summary

Emma begins writing another novel, a feminist crime story. Ian is very supportive of Emma and everything she does, while Emma has little faith in herself. Emma, likewise, has little faith in what she is doing with Ian. She realizes she is trying to build a life with a man whom she does not love. Dexter, meanwhile, is suffering from melancholy, and tries to mix music like a DJ to heal the depression, but it does not work. Dexter is toying with the idea of becoming an actor, or beginning his own production company. Emma also wonders why she is still friends with Dexter, and wonders why she doesn't let the friendship just die out. Nevertheless, she goes to dinner with him. Dexter is a little bitter despite all of his successes. Dexter is also slightly condescending with Emma's position as a teacher. Emma storms out of the restaurant, and Dexter races to catch up with her.

Emma is horrified that Dexter is drunk all the time, and Dexter just wants to talk. Emma tells her she loves him, but doesn't like him anymore. She then goes home to Ian.

Emma is now sleeping with Phil Godalming, the principal of the school who is married. It is an affair that began following Emma's rejection of Ian's marriage proposal. But now the excitement of the affair is fading, and at thirty, Emma seems to have no prospects. At home, Ian is waiting for her. Her rejection has sent him over the edge. He is out of work, scruffy, and angry. They shout at each other about love, and then both end up crying, after which Ian leaves. Emma decides to call Dexter the following day, having not had contact with him in months.

Dexter is fired from his late night television program for someone younger and more together. Dexter has to clean himself up and fix his image and heal his reputation. Emma and her old college friend, Stephanie Shaw, go to meet a publisher to whom Stephanie has given Emma's work. Marsha, the publisher, doesn't much care that Emma is a teacher. She mistakenly believes Emma is applying for the position of a nanny, because Marsha has canceled her appointment with Emma. Emma is humiliated, and leaves. Marsha tries to cheer her up, but Emma is inconsolable. It causes Emma to break things off with Phil and to quit her job as a teacher.

Dexter falls in love with a beautiful girl named Sylvie Cope, and meets her family over food. Sylvie brags about Dexter's production company, which has barely gotten off the ground. While playing a game, Dexter accidentally injures Sylvie, which horrifies the rest of the family. Dexter feels as though he is a failure once more. But he laughs, thinking he will have to tell Emma about everything one day.

Wedding invitations come in droves for Emma. Emma is not a very good driver, but she has her first car -a Fiat Panda- and is making the journey to the wedding of Tilly Killick and Malcolm Tidewell in Somerset. It is a wedding that Dexter will also be attending with Sylvie. Many of their old college friends, such as Callum, are there. Following the ceremony at Church, everyone moves to the lawn where the reception is being held, and the conversations among the old friends turn from memories to weight gain. Callum has started a natural food chain, and offeres Dexter a job. Dexter is hesitant. Emma, meanwhile, catches up with her friend Miffy, who talks about how successful their friends are.

Dexter and Emma decide to go through a maze at the estate where the wedding is being held. Emma is writing a novel based on her experiences with the school play "Oliver!". Emma and Dexter are now thirty-four, and Dexter knows he is running out of time to make excuses for being a screw-up. Dexter reveals to Emma he is actually engaged now, to be married to Sylvie. Sylvie is pregnant. Emma and Dexter share a cigarette. Emma begins crying because she feels as though she will be losing Dexter again, to family and responsibilities. Dexter doesn't think so.

Baby Jasmine Alison Viola Mayhew is born in January. Dexter's joblessness is a source of contempt between himself and Sylvie. Nevertheless, they move to Surrey. They live off of Sylvie's family's wealth. Dexter finally takes a job as a supervisor for Callum's company, and Sylvie begins spending more and more time at her parents' house. Though Dexter will be an executive within a month, he has to do the grunt work, as Callum requires of any executive in his company. While Sylvie goes out for a night with her friends, Dexter takes care of Jasmine and watches the house. Dexter's drinking is mostly in check now.

Stephanie Shaw is now married, and Emma is the Godmother of her baby. Emma wonders when she will get married and give birth, and wonders how much she'll love the child. Dexter is now drunk, and calls up Suki, but Suki doesn't want to talk to him. Jasmine cries upstairs, and no matter what Dexter does, he cannot get her to stop crying. Dexter gives Jasmine some medicine, and puts on music from a compilation CD made by Emma one year before. Emma is Jasmine's Godmother as well. Sylvie calls to check in on Dexter and Jasmine, and the reader learns that Sylvie is actually having an affair with Callum.

Dexter meets Emma in Paris. Emma is now a full-fledged novelist. They are happy to see each other. Emma has cut her hair, hoping to be bold, but was unhappy with how shortly it had been cut. Dexter is now divorced. Emma's book is doing wonderfully. Dexter has also, accordingly, quit his job with Callum. Emma is very supportive of Dexter getting his life back on track. Dexter is less than confident about himself. Dexter will be staying at Emma's apartment flat. There, they begin kissing, but Emma stops him, because she is seeing a man named Jean-Pierre. Dexter is jealous and hurt, hoping to have finally begun something of a relationship with Emma. Emma, Jean-Pierre, and Dexter are all going out to eat at eight, and Dexter is not happy about it. But Emma cancels on Jean-Pierre, and commits herself to Dexter.

One year later, Emma and Dexter are still together, and Dexter wants both of them to move in together. At Emma's insistence, and with financial help from Stephen, Dexter opens a food shop and cafe. They decide to call it Belleville Cafe. Dexter relishes in the work, and is finally proud of himself for the first time in years. Emma, meanwhile, oversees one of her books being turned into a television show, and is working on her next book, and is replying to fan e-mails and letters. While Callum and Sylvie are on vacation, Jasmine will be staying with Dexter. Dexter has emerged to be a wonderful father as well.

Chapter 9 - 16 Analysis

Emma discovers, over time, that she wants to be a novelist, and she begins writing novels. It is a pursuit that she is unsure of, but one which Ian encourages her to pursue. Yet, Emma discovers she is not in love with Ian, and in so doing, rejects his proposal of marriage. Dexter, meanwhile, continues drinking as his fame (and notorious reputation) grow. Dexter is very condescending toward Emma for being a teacher, which causes a coldness between the two of them.

Emma's own life appears to hit a brick wall when she becomes involved in an extramarital affair with Phil Godalming. She realizes her life is going nowhere, and endeavors to make a change. Too much of her life has passed her by, she knows. Readers will again connect here with Emma's character, for her struggles and her trials as she tries to figure out her life -just as the readers may have done, or are in the middle of doing.

Incidentally, just as Emma's life begins to look up, Dexter's life begins a nosedive. His reputation, bad attitude, and drugs and drinking have finally caught up with him. He is fired from his job as late-night host, and he appears without any prospects, until he meets Sylvia, who sets him back on course. Dexter begins dreaming once more, seeking to begin his own production company, but his drinking and deviant ways do not allow him the motivation and the ability to do so. At the same time, Sylvia becomes pregnant, and Dexter agrees to marry her, hoping for a quiet family life. Wedding invitations from all of Emma and Dexter's college friends pour into their mailboxes, as do birth announcements. This gets Emma thinking about the future, and wondering when she will be married and have her own children.

Dexter's marriage is loveless, however, and when Sylvia has an affair, and divorce ensues, Dexter seeks out Emma. Years of intentional and chance encounters, heartache, and joy, have all seeming brought both Emma and Dexter to each other. Their lives have mirrored one another, have branched away from the other, but have ultimately returned to be intertwined. There is a great metaphysical, metaphorical element to the idea that Dexter and Emma end up together. They have been searching for two decades for some modicum of peace, of stability, to find out what they must do with their lives. The search for life is also a search for love, and love proves to be the metaphysical element, while the metaphorical concept of searching is clearly present. Indeed, they have been searching their whole lives for each other.

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