Monday, November 10, 2014
Us by David Nicholls
Of course, nothing is perfect. His job isn't as much fun now that he is in management rather than down in the trenches. He loves Albie immeasurably, but can't seem to get along with him. They seem to argue a lot about Albie's choices, or nonchoices, as Douglas sees them. Connie seems a bit distant but he knows she is worried about the empty nest next year.
So Douglas is blindsided when Connie wakes him up one night to tell him she is thinking of leaving him. She's not sure yet and it won't happen tomorrow, but she might leave him once Albie takes off to college. In the meantime, they should use their last summer as a family to go on a Grand Tour, to take Albie to all the spots in Europe everyone should see. Reeling, Douglas agrees. Secretly, he thinks this can be his last chance, to make a connection with Albie and to win Connie back.
Off the family goes to explore and find themselves. They are the typical tourists. Douglas has planned everything down to the last detail and has the guidebooks memorized. Connie is insistent on having fun and being spontaneous. Albie is the sullen teenager accompanying parents that is a common sight on family vacations. Will it go well? Can Douglas prove that his family should stay together and that their love is more important than life circumstances?
David Nicholls has written a charming novel that will strike home with readers. His attempts to deal with changing life circumstances is a journey that each of us will make. His is the story of the one in the relationship who loves more. In every partnership, there is one who was the pursued and one who did the chasing. Most marriages are built on the hidden premise that one is loved more and the other spends time spoiling and catering to them. The reader can't help but feel along with Douglas and his dogged determination to do whatever it takes to keep his family intact. His steady love and reserved humor makes an impact that will not be soon forgotten. This book is longlisted for the Mann Booker prize this year and it is easy to see why. Nicholls has gotten the mix just right as he delves into relationships with characters that everyone will recognize. I loved this book and it is definitely in my personal top ten for the year. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in changing relationships and the nature of love.