on 30th September 2014
'I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.''Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?'Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they'd be doing their rediscovering together.So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.What could possibly go wrong?David Nicholls brings to bear all the wit and intelligence that graced One Day in this brilliant, bittersweet new book, which will delight his fans and bring him many new readers. A novel about love and family, husbands and wives, parents and children, its publication will undoubtedly be one of the major events in the world of books in 2014.
Us is the story of Douglas, a man who loves his wife dearly but has forgotten to show her. When Connie wakes him up in the middle of the night to tell him their relationship is not working, Douglas is shocked. Not wanting a divorce, Douglas agrees to go on the “grand tour” of Europe with his wife as well as their teenage so Albie as planned and see how it all plays out. As Douglas and his family visit the sights of France, Amsterdam and beyond, he shares his life. Of meeting and falling in love with Connie. The tragedies they have faced and their triumphs too. Of his experiences with his son and his own relationship with his father.
Many people will recognize David Nicholls from his novel One Day but I was new to his style. I enjoyed Us for many reasons – most of all for its unique perspective on life, love and relationships. Douglas is a scientist by trade and by nature a planner. For most of this novel he was completely out of his depth with his holiday being influenced by his photographer in training son and artist wife. The differences between their personalities and passions are highlighted and I admired how Nicholls contrasted the present day problems as Douglas reminisced.
The relationship between Douglas and Connie is shown from their first meeting right up until present day. They have shared twenty years together and it was lovely to see the progression over the course of time. Despite them being a fictional couple, I found their relationship to be incredibly authentic and the problems they had faced both realistic and relatable. Douglas and his son’s relationship was equally as interesting to read with Douglas’ exasperation at not understanding Albie somewhat amusing. The European setting was the perfect backdrop to Douglas’ life leading to him recalling prominent and poignant memories of his past whilst narrating his present day comedy of errors. I loved the use of the cities they visited being so prominent to the story and adding to the overall ambiance.
Us was more than I was expecting. This is a beautifully written novel full of all the things I adore reading about. Love, romance, life when it is at its most messy and characters who were both wonderfully real and made me laugh. David Nicholls is a wonderful storyteller and after reading Us, I feel as if by not reading One Day – I am truly missing out.
Thanks to The Reading Room and the Publisher for the review copy