8 January 2013
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there's an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
This isn’t a ‘girl meets boy’ story. This is a ‘girl meets boy, decides to go to Paris with him on a whim, boy leaves.’ story. And that is where the beauty lies; in the details and in the little moments of perfect imperfection. Because you know before evening turning the first page that this book is going to be different and what you discover the simple beauty of knowing the difference between a trip and a journey.
Allyson is on her last day of her tour of Europe, a tour that has been carefully structured (no doubt full of itineraries and rules), a tour that is dull and uneventful and too meticulously organised to ever be enjoyable. And then she meets Willem. Willem is Dutch, performs in a gorilla Shakespeare troupe, is ridiculously hot and likes canal boats. In act of spontaneity, that is totally our of character for Allyson, her and Willem travel to Paris. For Just One Day.
Forman’s delectable writing shapes this story into something that totally transcended any expectations I had. She creates a whole universe of opportunities and possibilities and manages to keep the story within the reach of us back here on earth; we feel and want and lust and strive to make connections with people just as much as Allyson does. We realise that Willem may not be the shining star that we want him to be and that’s where his character is at his strongest. And yet we still hope. He feels so real you can’t for one second be impervious to his charm or his marvelously developed page presence.
Just One Day will make you melt from happiness. It will make you feel like you've just breathed in a cool breath of fresh air after being stuck inside. It makes you hope and dream and fall in love with not just the characters, but with Paris and the kindness of strangers (the statement ‘a stranger is a friend you just haven’t met yet’ stands strong with this novel). You will feel relief as Allyson breaks the binds that tie her to her feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
This isn’t a ‘girl meets boy’ story. This is a ‘girl meets boy and finds something she needs more; herself’. I fell head over heels in love and I can’t wait to go on a journey with them again.