Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)
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?
Buy, read, and discuss Us
Watch the trailer for Us
David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway.
Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.
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I loved One Day, so when I was offered the chance to review US I leapt at it, and I’m glad I did. This book is wonderfully crafted, the dialogue is snappy, but realistic, and the characters feel like real people.
It takes a special kind of author to write about the (possible) end, and definite shift, of a marriage while still being witty, but Nicholls is an expert at that kind of poignance mixed with humor, and even at their worst his characters, and his plot, are thoroughly engaging. Personally, I was hooked quite early on, when there’s a bit of internal monologue from POV character Douglas about how if is son had needed another year of school, his marriage would have had one more year of perceived solidity. It’s such an unaffected observation, and on the surface it’s funny, but then you realize how very fragile he really is.
Author Nicholls was an actor before he started writing, and I suspect that’s why his use of language is so dead-on. He writes with an actor’s ear, and his words are meant to be spoken aloud. Indeed, this is one of those books that had me reading bits to the dogs (hey, any audience is better than none) and following my husband around the house telling him, “No, wait, you must listen to this scene.”
Small surprise, then, that his books end up as movies down the line. Consciously or not, they’re written to be cinematic.
Us is the kind of novel that turns into an immensely popular art film, the kind that all the cool people see, but that never makes it into the mainstream multiplexes. I have no problem with that, as these are precisely the sorts of novels I most enjoy.
If you, too, like wit-infused realism, then Us is the novel for you.
Goes well with Thai food and iced coffee
More About this Tour
This review is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.
Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage
Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader
Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads
Monday, October 13th: BookNAround
Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue
Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, October 21st: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris
Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter
Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading
Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book
Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks
Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic
Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora
Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey
Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings
Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews
Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days
Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey
Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica
Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies
Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo
Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs
Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, November 26th: missris
TBD: …the bookworm…