- Contemporary fiction
- Publication Date:
- Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Country of origin:
- United Kingdom
- Dimensions (mm):
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Us - a great character story
As David Nicholls did so well in his international bestseller, One Day, this is a depiction of a couple’s live together, and love spanning 20 years. This story picks up when Connie and Douglas are about to separate and they take one last family holiday with their son across Europe, with a secret hope to reunite and get things back together. Filled with the humour of travel stories where things that can go wrong do but lead ultimately to life affirming events and bonding. The ending is not quite what you’d expect and this has already been shortlisted for the Booker prize. It’s a very satisfying and enjoyable read.
Very witty writing, but rather sad
Douglas is madly in love with his wife – has been for twenty-five years now, so when she wakes up during one night and announces she’s thinking of leaving him, he’s devastated. Douglas finds the idea of life without Connie inconceivable, so he decides that he won’t allow it to happen. They still plan to go on with their European travel plans with their seventeen-year-old son Albie, even though Albie and Douglas really don’t get along all that well. The story of the “holiday” that follows is hilarious, melancholy and reflective, as Douglas also shares the history of his and Connie’s marriage and reflects on where he might have gone wrong along the way.
The travel part of this book is just hilarious – the situations the family get into along the way are just perfect and had me giggling to myself at times. Add to that the general witty nature of the writing and this book is up there as one of the most charming books I’ve read all year. Douglas is the perfect nerdy dad – his narration is packed with Dad jokes, only some of which are spoken in dialogue.
Of course there are also sad moments, reflections back on a shared life and the disasters that happened along the way. Much of the middle of the book is quite depressing, as Douglas battles with growing despair at his inability to win back his wife and his son. Poor Douglas – I just felt really sorry for him. He seemed like such a good guy, full of the best intentions.
This is essentially a story of the life of one marriage, but also about parenting and how our children, despite our best efforts, sometimes just don’t want to do what we desire for them to do. It’s a reminder to me that I should really aim to be a loving and encouraging influence on my children, and not try to force them down paths they may not necessarily want to tread. No matter our best intentions, though, we can’t always be the parents we envisaged being.
Us is a very enjoyable and well-written travel story, an emotional story about a family and a marriage, and a great store of parenting advice. This book reminds us to cherish our loved ones and allow them to be themselves, to communicate with each other and make time for togetherness. I’ll admit I was pretty disappointed in the ending, but not everyone will be.
A Love Story that's a little different
A wonderful book about love – just not the one you expect from the description of the book. It reads in present tense and past tense to help the reader understand where Douglas and Connie started, how their lives had been when they “officially” got together, when their son was born and when it all started going downhill. It was the only way to be able to understand their story completely and I loved it. The jumping back and forth didn’t alter the flow of the story at all. It was easy to distinguish between the past and the present and I enjoyed reading it.
I had a love/hate relationship with Connie. It seemed as though she was toying with Douglas – saying she’s going to leave him and yet giving him hope by going on this trip around Europe and playing “happy families”. It was confusing for me and I felt bad for poor Douglas. It seemed he could do nothing right. Looking into the past also made me feel sorry for him too. She was the “beautiful butterfly” and he was the net that had captured her. He was enamoured with her. Utterly in love with her because of the happiness he felt when with her. We’ve all been there. And although Connie loved him she wanted to change him and he let her as well because she loved him and he her.
But through the story you can also understand Connie’s side of things: how she thinks of her husband and why and it’s all due to misunderstandings throughout their lives and the way people change because they’re in a relationship and not because it’s expected of them but because they want to stop doing certain things without their partner, and want to start doing things together. It helps you to understand that in the end it wasn’t all Connie’s fault – as you seem to think at the beginning, but a mutual disintegration of their own identities and what they’d lost along the way.
Everything he seemed disappointed in about his son, he had once loved in his wife. He picked at him for his passion, rolled his eyes at his love of art, and ultimately had ruined his relationship with him because he didn’t believe in him. His wife must’ve seen it as an insult to her very being as well because her son was exactly like her, and hadn’t Douglas fallen in love with who she was? It was a wake-up call for her as well that she had lost who she was and result of that was asking for a divorce. So in the end, you understand that it wasn’t his or her fault, but a combined effort where no one was really to blame.
“Us” is a beautiful story that leads you right into the heart of things, makes you feel the loss of identity Douglas had suffered from himself, the loss of connection with his wife, the loss of a relationship with his son and then the passion he felt for fixing all those things. It was an adventure. I yelled, I cringed, I cheered at all the moments in Douglas’s life that would have a profound effect on his life and his own personality. A total must-read for those that want to fall in love with life and their children all over again!!!