When I read One More Day by David Nicholls it was just the book I needed. It made me laugh and cry, but most of all it made me realise there are romance books I could enjoy. It was a romance book for anyone who hated romance, ideal.
Five years later One Day is still a poignant moment of reading, it links with old memories of crushes and heartbreak. If I read it now? Well, I know I wouldn’t love it. Which is why when I came to buy Nicholl’s latest novel, Us, I was hesitant. But, it had been long-listed for the 2014 Booker prize, so I gave it a go.
“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?” – GoodReads
I’m not sad I’ve read Us, nor do I feel as if I have read anything culturally or intellectually significant. Nicholl’s brilliance lies in his ability to express the emotion of his characters, to create realistic people and their connections with one another. Douglas – the protagonist – never failed to make me laugh or well up, and that made Us such a pleasure to read.
Yet, if you are expecting anything more than a story about a white middle class male travelling across Europe think again. I was underwhelmed by the situation and aggravated but the romance. I felt the story could have been rounded with the inclusion of his wife Connie or son Albie’s point of view. Both of who seem to find Douglass beyond irritating, who love him but find something about him so abrasive he makes them cringe. This I expect from Albie, an 18-year-old boy, but not from his wife Connie. It frustrated me that Douglas needed to change to make someone happy, rather than both he and Connie working on their relationship as a whole.
Us by David Nicholls was just what I needed to help pull me from my reading stump, a light page turner even at its 400 page or so length. It’s light-hearted and reflective of the sacrifices and changes we make (not always consciously) for love.