Saturday, 25 October 2014

Review: Us by David Nicholls

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his New York Times bestseller one day to a compellingly human, deftly humorous new novel about what holds marriages and families together--and what happens when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen-year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells Douglas that she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn't be worse. Hoping to encourage her son's artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world's greatest works of art as a family, and she can't bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best, anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and may even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas's endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who's always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls's gifted hands, Douglas's odyssey brings Europe--from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafes of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona--to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: October 28th 2014 by Harper
Terri's Thoughts
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication data is October 28th, 2014.

This is one of those stories where all of the characters are extremely frustrating yet it comes together to produce an entertaining read.

Douglas:  I have never read a character that was more uptight than him.  Playing in to the stereotype that all scientists are boring and anal retentive, he was the poster child.  I found his character extreme and somewhat obnoxious in how tightly strung he was.

Connie:  Again playing in to stereotypes she was the free spirited artist.  I found that she was too often siding against her husband in matters relating to their son.  I found myself questioning throughout the story if she truly loved Douglas or ever had

Egg:  Perhaps I can be a little more forgiving with him.  He was an obnoxious seventeen year old with a distinct hatred for his father.  I found him unfair often but could also see the typical teenage rebellion in him.

This story is what happens when a dysfunctional and mismatched marriage starts to fall apart at the seams.  Sometimes humorous particularly when Doug was traipsing around Europe looking for his son, I also found it sad in the way you know a relationship is doomed.  I enjoyed the literal bubble Doug lived in but felt bad for the outcome of this.

So to summarize this was a frustrating read for me as I did not particularly like or identify with any of the characters yet couldn't wait to see how it would all play out.  I get the feeling that this is exactly what Nicholls was aiming for with this story and if so he succeeded.

About the Author

David Nicholls is a British author, screenwriter, and actor. A student of Toynbee Comprehensive school and Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, he Graduated from the University of Bristol having studied English Literature and Drama.

After graduation, he won a scholarship to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, before returning to London in 1991 and finally earning an Equity card. He worked sporadically as an actor for the next eight years, eventually earning a three year stint at the Royal National Theatre, followed by a job at BBC Radio Drama as a script reader/researcher. This led to script-editing jobs at London Weekend Television and Tiger Aspect Productions.

During this period, he began to write, developing an adaptation of Sam Shepard’s stage-play Simpatico with the director Matthew Warchus, an old friend from University. He also wrote his first original script, a situation comedy about frustrated waiters, Waiting, which was later optioned by the BBC.

Simpatico was turned into a feature film in 1999, and this allowed David to start writing full-time. He has been twice nominated for BAFTA awards and his first novel, Starter for Ten was featured on the first Richard and Judy Book Club.



  1. awww.. so it's like watching something fall apart? I might not be game for it.

  2. Doesn't seem like it's my cup of coffee but maybe in the future I'll change my mind... Great review! :)
    Book Maniac Reviews