From the author who broke all our hearts with One Day and made us all laugh/cringe with Starter for Ten comes another book that you are going to seriously struggle to put down, and that book (obviously) is Us.
I love David Nicholls (if you haven’t read One Day you really need to..now, I am being serious) his books always captivate me from the very first page and by the last you feel like you have known his characters forever and are wishing the story didn’t have to end. I felt exactly this way reading Us, I was desperate to know what happened next.
Before we get to the end though (no spoilers), lets start at the beginning. Us is the tale of Douglas, a man in his 50’s who believes he and his spouse are happily married. That is until his wife, Connie, wakes him one night in the early hours and admits she is considering leaving him. This would be awful at the best of times but poor, clueless Douglas has already booked a family holiday, travelling around Europe for the summer. The trip is booked for Douglas, his unhappy wife and their teenage son Albie, who shares a very strained relationship with his father.
In a hope to save his marriage, and the hundreds of pounds already spent on the trip, the Grand Tour of Europe goes ahead. A series of mishaps ensues and I often found myself thinking ‘Oh Douglas, why did you say that?’. We quickly learn that all Douglas wants is to make his wife and son happy but, for several different reasons, he often struggles to achieve this. As the family travel all over Europe, Douglas sees himself getting in to all kinds of trouble – his shenanigans in Amsterdam are particularly hilarious – and on more than one occasion I was convinced this poor man would never please his already distant wife and his moody, ‘the whole world hates’ me teenage son.
I loved that the story was not set in one place and Nicholls describes the big cities of Europe in beautiful detail. I have never been to Venice or Madrid but I feel as though I have. He made me long to visit Paris again and made me wish I appreciated art a little bit more. You come away from this novel feeling like you know just that little bit more about this continent we live on, seeping with culture and history.
I found myself conflicted at times reading Us. I just could not decide if I wanted Douglas and Connie to stay together. His wife’s character is so complex and different to his own, I often thought maybe this trip was all in vain, perhaps their marriage isn’t worth saving. However, at other points I so desperately wanted them to stay together because it is clear how much Douglas loves Connie and does not want to be without her. I won’t tell you the outcome of their journey (both marital and the physical trip), all I will say is when I read the very last sentence I had a smile on my face.
Have you read Us or any other David Nicholls novels? Do you love his books too? If you are looking for something to read I hope this review encourages you to give Us a go.