Douglas Petersen's family is on the brink of dissolution. His marriage of 21 years to Connie is almost over. When autumn comes around, their son Albie will leave for college. Connie has decided to leave soon after.
But before everything falls apart, there's still the summer holidays to get through - a Grand Tour of Europe's major cities - and over the course of the journey, Douglas devises a plan to win back the love of his wife and repair his troubled relationship with his son.
©2014 David Nicholls (P)2014 W F Howes Ltd
"Us is epic and intimate, funny and heartbreaking. No-one can write as brilliantly, poignantly and hilariously as David Nicholls about love, life and loss. His many fans will not be disappointed." (SCOOP)
A engaging look at the complicated father-son-mother triangle of love, interdependency and growth. How no one is an island and as as we live we take something of the others that we live and love with.
When there are so many great narrators out there, why chose one so dull? This novel is long awaited and much anticipated but the narrator reads with a wearisome two-tone delivery as though it's a local news report. Douglas comes across as a whiner and all the gentle comedy is lost.
Connie feels suffocated by her marriage and wants out but not before they make a final trip together as man and wife. Who would want that?
I found it unbelievable that intelligent but spineless Douglas not only agreed to this but meticulously planned the educational tour of Europe around her interests.
Even harder to believe was that their son, Albie, was persuaded to join them rather than take the usual coming of age holiday with his friends.
And so this dysfunctional family embark on an emotional journey each hoping for a different outcome. I didn't sympathise with any of the characters, nor enjoy the journey.
Douglas Petersen is 54 and his wife of nearly 25 years is thinking of leaving him....
This is how "Us" begins, and over the series of many short chapters, we are submerged into Douglas' world entirely from his perspective, both through the present, and the past, with some glimpses into the future. This shifting of time I at first found a bit unsettling, but it helps us to understand why Douglas finds himself to be in the predicament he is in.
On the whole, I came away from this feeling pessimistic about life, and how despite your best efforts you can still be left in solitude. I also found it hard to fully sympathise with Douglas. Sure - the breakdown of his marriage was not all his fault. Connie was just as much to blame, but his lack of empathy towards his son, Albie, was at times truly cold. But, then, this was not entirely Douglas' fault, as his parents showed him very little warmth when he was growing up.
David Nicholls is without doubt a talented writer, with a lot of depth to his craft. He manages to bring a lot of humour, to what is ultimately a sad story. There are some dark moments here, but there are also some tender ones too. I also enjoyed the European backdrop to the story and some of the descriptions of the places Douglas and his family visited. At times, it was a little verbose, but still enjoyable.
And finally, I thought Justin Salinger's narration was pretty good. He seemed to strike the right tone and balance throughout.
It was a lovely listen, the story I felt did take a while to get into but I am glad I continued as it was a very sweet novel - an easy listen but not particularly gripping, but very nice.
I enjoyed listening to it but the narrator's voice was hard to get used to. The story might have been better for me if I had read the book myself
I am a retired social worker. I live with my husband of 46 year on the coast at Felixstowe.
Although this book was well written and well read, I found the characters depressing and rather stupid and largely unbelievable.
As the story ground endlessly on I actually found myself disliking all the three main characters.
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