A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label David Nicholls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Nicholls. Show all posts

Monday, 13 July 2015

Us by David Nicholls - Book review

Us, David Nicholls, Book reviewIt's not often that I'm compelled to write a book review on the blog. In fact, I've mentioned books only a couple of times previously in a cheats guide to my top five reads (how can anyone pick so few?) and a review of Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by Jenny Eclair.

I spied a review of Us back in November's Good Housekeeping and quickly added it to my reading list. I bought a copy just before we were due to leave for a recent holiday and thought it would make a perfect read - I wasn't wrong.

The follow-up to One Day - I have no idea how I missed all the hype as well as the film - but somehow I just did. I plan on reading this next and seeing the film very soon.

Us tackles the concerns of parenthood, middle age and what it means to stay in a harmonious relationship after so many years. It was a surprising choice for the Man Booker prize longlist in 2014, but failed to make the shortlist. 

Narrated throughout by Douglas Petersen, master of the killer one-liner and on such a different wavelength to the rest of his family that he often feels like an outsider. His wife, Connie is a flamboyant artist and their relationship is based upon the theory that 'opposites attract.' Only child, Albie, takes after his mum with artistic tendencies and plans to study photography at university. Before he leaves though, a Grand Tour of Europe is planned as a final holiday together as a family. Just before they're due to go, Connie reveals that she intends to leave Douglas shortly after the holiday. This throws Douglas into turmoil and he plots to make amends with his wife during the trip and save his marriage.

I identified completely with the character of Douglas as I used to be a biochemist in a previous career and scientists are renowned for their practicality, slight eccentricity and humour in its wackiest form. Hilarious descriptions of a pet drosophila (fruit fly) and the culinary 'delights' of his sister's tuna pasta bake were particularly memorable and deserving of some funny looks as I couldn't help laughing out loud while reading at the beach.

Connie, on the other hand, infuriated me at times as she came across as self-indulgent. I couldn't fathom how she and Albie failed to see Douglas's point of view on so many occasions. As I live with three family members with artistic temperaments it did make me wonder whether some of our miscommunications occur as a result of my completely different take on the world. It was therefore, very insightful.

The observations of a long-term relationship were astute and filled with pathos as well as humour. I willed for Douglas and Connie's marriage to survive as they'd endured several setbacks over the years and emerged from the chaos. Did they make it? I guess you'll just have to read for yourself.

One of those books you'd rather not finish as it's a pleasure to pick up and the chapters are so short that it's hard to find an excuse to put the book down. I didn't want this subtle, but soulful book to ever end.

Rating 5/5.

Until next time... 

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