David Nicholls – Us

Douglas is very happy in his marriage, still totally in awe of his wife and content to grow old with her. She’s got other ideas though and is ready to walk out on him just as their son is about to move out of their house. Douglas thought they’d have a renewed life together when their son left but Connie feels this could make for a grim existence and wants to try and shake up her life a bit now she’s got the chance to make a fresh start.

He’d been introduced to her at a party by his sister. He was introduced as shy, someone not really comfortable at parties where everyone is competing for attention and putting forward the best ideas of themselves. She introduced him to culture and his life feels richer from the films and other things he’s learned about from her. He does all the practical things Connie could’ve wished for from a husband and is a very methodical individual, far from the free spirit Connie seems to be.

Douglas feels like a stepfather his son, Albie, a feeling like unrequited love. His son takes lots of photos and there’s all kinds of beautiful shots of his mother, but none of his father worth talking about. Albie certainly seems to feel he’s a disappointment to his dad, who worries about the future and wants him to do something that’ll lead to a job.

The story of Us takes place just as they’re for heading off on a big family holiday, a trip that Douglas sees as a chance to save his marriage and show Connie that their relationship is something of substance worth holding on to. It follows the Grand Tour and the story of Douglas, Albie and Connie so far in very short chapters. It recounts the falling in love and the changing city and is full of the charm we’ve come to expect from David Nicholls.

The Grand Tour doesn’t quite play out as well as one would hope for in a big family holiday. As we find out the background of the family and the ongoing antics on the holiday we get drawn into the emotions of this peculiar inividual. It’s hard not to be humoured and moved by the thoughts of Douglas, and this is another David Nicholls book that will surely have people weeping by the final pages as we feel for this man struggling to connect with his wife and son.

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