Book Review | Us by David Nicholls



I've just finished reading 'Us' by David Nicholls and I actually enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. It's by the same author of 'One Day' which I've read, and seen the film starring Anne Hathaway, and also 'Starter for Ten' which I've only seen the film version of. Nicholls tends to write stories based around ordinary English people, there's nothing particularly special about their lives but the way he writes helps you to invest in the characters he creates. Although I have read one of his books before, this is a bit of a change from the romantic comedy style books and young-adult fiction I'm used to reading. The pace is a bit slower, the themes more mature (mature as in affecting an older generation than myself) and the entire story  is told from the perspective of a middle-aged man named Douglas. It was nice to have a break from my usual reading with something a bit different, instead of a woman in her twenties/thirties looking for the man of her dreams I was faced with a man desperately trying to hold on to his wife and his family, a story which seemed steeped in reality and less like the romance fantasy I'm used to. 

'Us' begins with the revelation of Douglas's wife Connie announcing in the middle of the night that once their son leaves for university at the end of Summer, she is thinking of leaving too. From that point Douglas narrates his story intertwining the current events of their reluctant summer holiday with the story of how he and his wife met and their life since. The book is divided into five sections, each representing a turning point (both geographically as they travel Europe and emotionally) but apart from that the text is a continuous rambling of Douglas's thoughts only broken up by various headings. At the beginning of the book the two intertwining stories contrast between the happiness of the couple's initial dating and the lacklustre relationship they have now, however as it continues the two begin to reconcile and it becomes clear where and why is started to go wrong. Douglas loves his wife and son very much, but the two of them have very different personalities and interests to him and despite his best efforts he is often left feeling out or unwittingly causes an argument. The relationships are portrayed really well throughout the book, they feel honest and real in their turbulence and while we hope that Douglas can reconcile with both his wife and his wayward son we know that life doesn't often play out as happily as it does in films.

Overall I was impressed with 'Us' and I look forward to reading more books by David Nicholls. 


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