Author: David Nicolls
Publication: 30th September 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton
Around the Year in 52 Book Challenge – A book with a one word title
Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen-year-old son, Albie; then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.
The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway. Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage and might even help him bond with Albie.
Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger.
Us is the story of a man who likes to be in control of situations, who suddenly finds himself in one – well, more than more – that he cannot control. Connie decides that she want to end their relationship, but not until and unspecified date after their family traveling around Europe.Douglas is determined to salvage their relationship, and his one with his son.
Douglas is a scientist, a bit of a nerd and the sort of person who laminates timed itineraries.
And I do read a great deal of non-fiction, which has always seemed to me a better use of words than the made-up conversations of people who have never existed.
The book is solely narrated from Douglas’ perspective; we hear how he feels and we can see how others feel, although Douglas finds it hard to pick up on his own and other people’s emotions. This reminded me slightly of Don from The Rosie Project. Although this could be frustrating, especially as some of the things he says makes him come across as such an arse, the book was also very funny.
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?
The book switches between past and present, which I love. We see how when they first met, Connie was impulsive and creative but has settled down as the years have passed. We see his relationship with his son, Albie, now and why he was younger and how much it has changed. The now was definitely my favourite, seeing all of the locations over Europe and seeing Douglas change his character in attempt to save his relationship with his family.
This really was a wonderful book to read, with a focus on love and family. It was poignant, funny and moving. It’s definitely worth a read, and not just for women.