Book Review: Us by David Nicholls

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David Nicholls never fails to impress me. Every novel of his I’ve read so far I have loved, his books are full of characters so realistic that they become almost like friends and his storytelling is brilliant, witty, emotional and wonderful. Us is no exception as a story that is tinged with sadness, laced with hilarity and told perfectly through our voice of the novel, Douglas Petersen.

The book starts with Douglas’ wife Connie telling him early one morning that she think she wants to leave him. Not now but after the summer when their teenage son Albie goes off to college. The family had already planned a brilliant summer with a grand tour round Europe to educate their son on what would be there last summer holiday together and despite everything they still decide to go.

The novel follows the family on their tour including the many mishaps Douglas experiences along the way. I’m split between feeling sorry for Douglas on the trip and getting annoyed with him; he constantly tries to hard, ruining the trip but after a while all his woes bring you more onto his side.

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The trip is punctuated by stories of how Connie and Douglas met, their early relationship, their marriage, the birth of their son and the tragic loss of their daughter. There are also mentions of Douglas’ early life with his parents and his work as a biochemist. I like that Nicholls hasn’t given us everything at once, giving us chunks of information about Douglas and Connie as and when necessary and even towards the very end of the book, there are still things to discover about these two, adding to the suspense.

I also liked that this novel features travel so heavily and as I have been to a lot of the places featured, I could imagine things better, seeing them in my mind’s eye, revisiting them and reliving moments in my own life which was a lovely added bonus.

As a brilliantly written story of two dysfunctional people, their marriage and their son, it really is an addictive read. The normality of their life, their meeting and a lot of things in the book makes this relatable and I think that ultimately makes it more enjoyable as you can see this sort of thing happening to anyone really.

Having already received many plaudits, and I’m sure will continue to do so, there is nothing I can find fault with here. Again Nicholls has written an excellent novel, one which I will visit again and again, becoming much loved I’m sure.

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