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Friday, 26 June 2015

Us by David Nicholls

'I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.'
'Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?'
Douglas Petersen understands his wife's need to 'rediscover herself' now that their son is leaving home.
He just thought they'd be doing their rediscovering together.
So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.
The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.
What could possibly go wrong?

Title: Us
Author: David Nicholls
Published By: Hodder & Stoughton
Link: Amazon

My Review

This is a tender portrayal of a middle aged man called Douglas Petersen, who discovers that his wife Connie is not happy in their marriage and has decided to leave him when their son Albie leaves home for college. Douglas is totally surprised by his wife's decision as he had no idea that she wasn't happy.
The story flits between the present time and the past to all the significant moments in their lives. 
When they were introduced by his sister they were quite an unlikely match as he was a scientist and she was a frivolous arty type who loved to party, however Connie seemed to find him quite grounding and she felt safe when she was with him and he thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He admired her outspokenness, especially when she spoke to his parents like normal people. She was able to bring out his sense of humour in his otherwise quite serious life.
Their marriage had lasted for twenty years and they had enjoyed some wonderful moments but also endured some very sad times, some of which I don't think they had ever gotten over.
As they had already booked an amazing holiday around Europe which they called 'The Grand Tour' they decided they would still go on it as their last family holiday together. Douglas hoping that he can persuade Connie to stay with him as they would visit some places where they had shared romantic times in the past.
The holiday does not go to plan and Douglas does something to upset and embarrass his stroppy teenage son which causes him to disappear. Douglas thinks back and realises he has never really understood his son and has often felt like the outsider in the family. He really wants to make amends and so embarks on a mission to bring his family back together and after many twists and turns and surprises he discovers a different side to himself that he never knew existed.
Traumatic events bring the family back together but not in the way you would expect, though with a better understanding of each other.
I really felt for Douglas and would be interested to hear Connie's side of the story, she obviously felt like she needed to find herself.
It's hard bringing teenagers up, especially when parents have conflicting views on how to raise them eg. what subjects they should study, what time they should be home. I think one of the points that the book makes is that while we can advise our children on what to do it's also important to to listen to what they want from life and learn to respect their views and maybe look at the world through their eyes once or twice as we could actually learn things from them. As a mother of teenagers I can relate really well to the book. I think Douglas and Connie provide good contrasts to life for Albie and hope he can take the best of both of them forward on his journey.
The book was fun but quite sad in parts and I think it shows that their love for each other is real and strong it's just different. I think all parents of teenagers would really relate well to this poignant story with an uplifting message.
If you enjoyed this book you may like Andy Jones - The Two of Us.
I would like to thank Loose Women for sending me this book to read as part of their Loose Books Campaign.

Book Angel x

About The Author

David Nicholls
David Nicholls trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. His TV credits include the third series of Cold Feet, Rescue Me, and I Saw You, as well as a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About Nothing and an adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, both for BBC TV. David has continued to write for film and TV as well as writing novels, and he has twice been nominated for BAFTA awards.

David's bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and David has written the screenplays for film versions of both STARTER FOR TEN (released in 2006, starring James McAvoy) and THE UNDERSTUDY (not yet released).

David Nicholls' third novel, ONE DAY, was published in hardback in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. It has since gone on to sell over 2 million copies and has been translated into thirty-seven languages. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award. David wrote the screenplay for Lone Scherfig's film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway, which was released in 2010.

David's fourth novel, US, has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014.

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