Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)
David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.
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 to 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 a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?
I was drawn into this book immediately. Within the first few pages, Connie tells Douglas that she feels the marriage has run its course and wants a divorce. Bam!! Twenty years of marriage thrown away, or so it seems from Douglas’ point of view. Douglas goes back in time to describe how he first met Connie, what his life is like, and what he hopes to accomplish while he and his family trek across Europe. Connie wants to have this last trip as a family, to experience “firsts” with Albie and have him have the trip of his life. Douglas wants to use this time to save his marriage and draw closer to Albie. However, this trip has plans of its own, which helps both of them to discover important truths along the way and helps bring them closer as a family.
Douglas shares about his biochemist life and the work he does…even about a fruit fly. The fruit fly has an interesting lifespan and purpose, which is analogous to the relationship between Douglas and Connie. It’s interesting that when the fruit fly’s life cycle ends, it is replaced with another fruit fly. Yet, Douglas never sees the correlation between his marriage and that of the fruit fly. Prior to Connie’s shocking statement about wanting to move on because their relationship has run its course, Douglas never anticipates that this can happen to his own marriage, like that of the fruit fly’s lifespan. Douglas is traditional and predictable within his marriage: he goes to work, provides for the family, is dependable, is trustworthy, and expects to grown old and die together (he and his wife).
Connie has focused her attention on their son, Albie, through the course of their marriage. Prior to the marriage, Connie was unpredictable and has found herself in a rut. She has given her all to the marriage, but wants more now that Albie is graduating and moving on, too. She wants to discover herself again, embark on adventures, and experience life in a way she feels the marriage hasn’t allowed her to.
As they all go on this trip, Connie and Douglas have different goals for this trip. Douglas wants to save his marriage and grow closer to Albie. Connie wants to have one last hurrah with them and give Albie a fun trip. Connie and Douglas both gain better perspectives on themselves, their relationship, and their father/mother role with Albie. Douglas also sees that despite marriage or divorce, the terms themselves aren’t what defines their relationships; it is their own ability to move themselves and truly seek satisfying relationships with one another and being present. They also realize that whatever the outcome, they will forever be tied together and be a family, despite any titles they have (husband/wife, mother/father/son, etc).
This is a sad tale, while there are moments of joy sprinkled throughout. It’s a book that many will enjoy because of the in depth look into marriage and of a couple who really are different, yet balance each other in ways they don’t even realize. It’s a book that will challenge reader’s own views on marriage and divorce and bring greater appreciation to living in the moment, while always planning ahead.
This is a great book for book club discussions! Overall, an excellent book!
*This book was provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation were given.
About David Nicholls
David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.
Find out more about David at his website and connect with him on Facebook.
David’s Tour Stops
Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage
Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader
Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads
Monday, October 13th: BookNAround
Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue
Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, October 21st: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris
Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter
Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading
Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book
Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks
Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic
Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora
Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey
Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings
Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews
Saturday, November 15th: BoundbyWords
Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days
Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey
Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica
Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies
Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo
Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs
Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, November 26th: missris
TBD: Reading in Black & White
TBD: …the bookworm…