I was a big fan of One Day, so I decided to treat myself to this book with the earnings I got from my work on the recent BritCrime Literary Festival.
Douglas and Connie: scientist and artist, and for more than twenty years, husband and wife – until suddenly their marriage seems over.
But Douglas is going to win back the love of his wife and the respect of Albie, their teenage son, by organising the holiday of a lifetime.
He has booked the hotels, bought the train tickets, planned and printed the itinerary for a ‘grand tour’ of the great art galleries of Europe.
What could possibly go wrong?
God, what an emotional roller coaster ride this book is! I laughed so much but man, did I also cry! I had to go and read something incredibly chipper and not quite so deep in order to get over it. David Nicholls captures our hearts and minds once again.
And also once again, a writer has managed to win us over with an academically-focused, emotionally rigid and socially awkward Sheldon-esque character (if you don’t know who Sheldon is, you’re missing out on a great TV show.) Along with the likes of Matt Haig’s The Humans and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, Us is a book which lets the reader enter the heads of those who are not prone to sentimentality or being lead by their emotions. How do these academic, logic-driven characters deal with life when it throws heartache and pain into their paths?
Douglas is a character typically like this; the difference with him is that he has a good sense of humour and often makes those ‘dad jokes’ which is very entertaining for the reader, though less so for Connie and Albie. Connie is so far on the opposite end of the spectrum to him that you wonder what it is about Douglas that she fell in love with. Whatever it is, you cannot help but root for this couple. However different they are, they have loved each other for a long time, and the book explores the history of their life together in a gripping and engaging way.
Douglas’ relationship with his son is an interesting one because it sheds light on Douglas’ shortfalls as a father and also leaves a strong desire within the reader for some kind of reconciliation between the two. As a reader I found myself wishing that Albie and Douglas could repair their damaged relationship. It’s fascinating to see how Douglas deals not only with the heartache of having a strained and awkward relationship with his son, but also how he deals with the realisation that it’s ultimately down to his failures as a father.
An added bonus about this book is that it taught me a lot about art and Europe, and Nicholls’ vivid writing style allows the reader to embark on the journey along with the family. His descriptions of buildings and art pieces are brilliant, meaning that he is not only a genius at writing the abstract parts of life, but also the beautiful, weird tangible parts too.
It’s a no-brainer, I would recommend this book again and again. A great read.