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Book Review of The Week: Us

From the author who brought us One Day, David Nicholls brings us, Us. Us is about the story of a conventional family of three, Douglas, Connie and Albie. Douglas Peterson, a 54-year-old biochemist, is our protagonist and

us

From the author who brought us One Day, David Nicholls brings us, Us.

Us is about the story of a conventional family of three, Douglas, Connie and Albie. Douglas Peterson, a 54-year-old biochemist, is our protagonist and voice of the book, he’s matter-of-fact and a proud man, whom often has to remind himself to“maintain a sense of fun and spontaneity.” Connie, on the other hand, is an artist, a painter, a wild character who loves to express herself through her artwork, she’s spontaneous and fun, quite the opposite to her husband Douglas. Albie, their 17-year-old son is terribly rebellious and has the artistic flair like his mother, which drives Douglas round the bend. Albie’s relationship with Connie is just how it should be, they share the same passions and interests and are inspired by the same artists and musicians. However, Douglas and Albie’s relationship is fragile and almost non-existence and needs saving before Albie moves away for university.

About to set off on a trip around Europe to explore museums, art galleries and grand monuments Connie announces that she thinks their marriage has ran its course. Regardless of Connie’s words Douglas still wants to make the trip happen and makes an oath to himself that he will win back Connie.

Throughout, the book drifts between the present day and the past relating to the moments Connie and Doulgas first met and their journey throughout their relationship. This is particularly important for the storyline to get a true feel for the characters and their life together. At the beginning of the book my heart ached for Douglas but as the story progresses you realise that no one in particular should take the blame for the failing of their marriage, as, even though the story is one sided, it is in no way bias to Douglas’ character.

The trip takes a dramatic turn and doesn’t all plan out accordingly to Douglas’ plan and lists. Douglas has one chance to prove himself to Connie and one chance to make amends with his son Ablie, all the while letting go of himself and learning to relax and have a bit of fun.

David Nicholls has wrote this novel wonderfully and has managed to carry the character of Douglas so perfectly that you feel you know the character. Let’s be honest, we all probably have a Douglas in our family, an anal, wise-crack, who knows everything about anything. He’s a regular dad type character, loving and caring yet doesn’t always announce it, he’s wise, smart and moans a lot, oh, and makes a lot of bad dad jokes. His wit will have you laughing however, and his sternness will have you tensing your knuckles. Just like a dad should…

Us gives us an honest insight of the struggles of family life and is a reflection of many families today. It’s a poignant yet bittersweet novel that will have you laughing and will also leave a tear in your eye. It’s a lovely read and is unconventional from other novels you may read. If you’re familiar with Nicholls work, you will know by now Nicholls doesn’t always deliver us a fairy tale happy ending, but never the less, it’s all round enjoyable book that I would recommend. It’s no wonder it was short-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and won the Specsavers “UK Author of The Year” award.

hannah@theblackandwhiteedit.co.uk

Review overview
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