by David Nicholls
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Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Hardback: 416 pages
David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, 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 him 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 might 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, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, 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 cafés 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?
The painful realities of this family's life with an unlikable narrator made this story uncomfortable and unpleasant to read about. BUT, as the story progressed the growth development of each character (especially the narrator) changed my view.
I also liked how this story intermingles past and present in a summer road trip kind of setting with travels through European countries that include France, The Netherlands, Italy and Spain.
AND, I really enjoyed the descriptions of the places visited with museum art trivia thrown in. More places to add to my travel bucket list!
* listened to audio version
* part of Man Booker Prize Reading challenge
* added this to my Books On The Nightstand Bingo challenge - square: Red Cover
* part of my Armchair Summer Travel (details) - check it out to enter Armchair Summer Travel Book Box Giveaway