A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Relationships. 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... 

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 3 April 2015

How I met my husband

A few weeks ago I found myself chatting to a friend who belongs to an online dating site. She was deliberating whether (or not) to go on a date with someone she wasn't convinced would be a good match and after listening to what she had to say about him, I was also sceptical. She's so lovely and deserves to be happy - so why is it that she can't seem to find - The One?

Along with a mutual friend, we've offered to personally vet anyone she's thinking of dating. I like to think that between us we could weed out the needy, the judgemental, the troublesome, the ones who never grew up - and find someone who's perfect.

I cast my mind back 26 years and realised that dating today is not what it used to be. I met Mr A on a blind date; only he wasn't supposed to be my date - he was the gooseberry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, its definition is: a third person in the company of two people, often on a date.

Incredibly, Mr A and my actual date shared the same first name and thought it hilarious to not share this information with me. It was an interesting evening and certainly one of the most perplexing dates I've ever been on. Mr A drove me home and the following day we bumped into one another in town. Was it fate? I like to think so. The rest, as they say, is history.

I think I'd be pretty rubbish at dating now to be honest. After 22 years of marriage Mr A and myself get along pretty well most of the time. We trust one another implicitly, have learnt how to diffuse difficult situations and share a similar outlook on life.

The other evening, after a bottle of wine we were discussing the merits of trading one another in for a younger model. I like to think this is a reflection of how comfortable we are talking about absolutely anything after so many years together - rather than an open invitation.

After much deliberation, we concluded that a younger model would be very hard work indeed and weren't convinced we'd ever want to go back to those early days of a relationship. It was fun while it lasted, but 26 years on, I don't think I'd have the stamina, or the patience to get used to a new partner's annoying habits. And I wouldn't want to feel bad about nodding off on the sofa by 10pm. Mr A went on to list each and every one of my irritating habits and I may have threatened to set the cat on him (she was sleeping peacefully at the time). And so, we decided that we'd rather stay with the devil we know. Neither of us fancies our chances at online dating, but I'm eternally optimistic for my friend.

So, how did you meet your partner? I'd love to hear about it...

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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