Us – David Nicholls

I really, really, really enjoyed this book. It made me laugh. Seriously laugh. Out loud! In public!!

This is the story of the decline of a marriage. Or perhaps more accurately it’s just a story about people.

The main character Douglas Petersen is our narrator, and I must say he is so awkward, intelligent and hilarious – I love his narrative. We follow his thoughts, feelings, actions and memories after his wife tells him, “I think I want to leave you”.

This comes as a shock to him. He wasn’t expecting it. And as his 17-year-old son is about to head off to tertiary education, it’s like the family is falling apart. Clearly, Douglas is under some pressure.

I liked how Nicholls structured this book. It flicks back and forth from current events and Douglas’ memories of the early days of his relationship with Connie seamlessly. At times it felt a bit like reading a mystery novel. I found myself looking for the early signs that their marriage wasn’t going to work out.

Nicholls also clearly has some knowledge of art. The family takes a final family trip through Europe, seeing all the galleries and famous art along the way. A lot of it was over my head, by I expect an avid artist would love this aspect of the book!

He also uses some great language in here:

… soon the men were barrelling towards me, the four of them like fingers in a fist, hatred in their eyes.

What an inventive way of conveying the anger of the men! ‘Fingers in a fist’. Amazing.

There are also some truly excellent gems of life reflection in here. Such as this, re: wedding day –

Was it the happiest day of our lives? Probably not, if only because the truly happy days tend not to involve so much organisation, are rarely so public or so expensive. The happy ones sneak up, unexpected.

Nicholls is just quirky and clever and I like him! πŸ™‚

The restaurant was in Soho, Spanish-themed for old times’ sake, and so fashionable that we had to queue for some time to get in. Queuing, it seems, is also fashionable now. You’re meant to feel honoured, and grateful for your seat, and I wonder how long it will be before they ask you to wash up, too.

It’s difficult to convey sarcasm in writing sometimes, but Nicholls does it so well. Laugh-out-loud well.

It’s not a happy, peachy ending. But it seems fitting and right. I enjoyed this book so thoroughly I’ll probably read it again πŸ™‚


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