Us – by David Nicholls

1 08 2015

Having loved the idea and the story behind ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls, both book and film, the fact that The Times called this “Even better than One Day” meant I had to give it a go!

Early on in the book we hear Connie (an artist) tell Douglas (a scientist, and the narrator of the book) she thinks she wants to leave him when their son Albie goes to University in the autumn. From then on we follow two stories in parallel: How they met and reached that point, and from that point, how Douglas attempts to save their marriage and the respect of his son during a “Grand Tour” of Europe, seeing all the art galleries, that they already had planned.

The story from that point on mainly revolves around the difficult relationship between Douglas and Albie – Albie being a fairly hipster teenager, and his dad being a slightly awkward, boring and formal scientist. Made all the more difficult by the closeness that does exist between Connie and Albie. I won’t go much further with that as I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s told so well.

I found myself folding down corners of pages as I went when there was a sentence or phrase that I thought was particularly interesting or thought-provoking. I’ve checked them for spoilers and shared a few below:

  • “In short, my son makes me feel like his step-father.”
  • “I’ve got nothing against his dreams as long as they’re attainable.”, “But if they’re attainable then they’re not dreams!”
  • “It was a good joke, though perhaps not enough in itself to save our marriage.”
  • “Was it the happiest day of our lives? Probably not, if only because the truly happy days tend not to involve so much organisation, are rarely so public or so expensive.”
  • “The tourist’s paradox: how to find somewhere that’s free of people exactly like us.”
  • “But the trouble with living in the moment is that the moment passes.”
  • “The great virtue of defeat, once accepted, is that it at least allows one to rest. Hope had kept me awake for too long.”

Knowing that Nicholls doesn’t always write happy endings, I was fairly apprehensive for the last third of the book, but obviously I won’t tell you what happened!

Us

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