Us by David Nicholls | Rating: ★★★☆☆
“I had always been led to believe that aging was a slow and gradual process, the creep of a glacier. Now I realize that it happens in a rush, like snow falling off a roof.”
As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
David Nicholls knows how to tug on your heartstrings; this much we already know based on his bestselling novel One Day. When I received my copy of Us, I knew only one promise of the general plot: rediscovery in a last ditch effort to save one marriage and bring a family closer together.
What our leading man doesn’t understand is that sometimes marriages fall apart and you have to let go. Which is both a curse and seemingly admirable. His optimism in rekindling his marriages romance is something that everyone can relate to because it’s something that often comes up in everyone’s life; whether that be romance or friendship there’s always something in us that wants to save a connection.
And while it makes some of his efforts cringe worthy, and at times messy, it also makes him real and shows readers how easy it is to feel for him as he plans for the trip. Douglas is thoughtful and filled with humor in his narration that it makes the novel that much more likable.
It isn’t always easy for me to get into male narration but there’s something so obtainable about Douglas. He’s a bit of everyone. His voice is so warm and caring that it’s a treat wiggling yourself into his mind. He is intelligent and easy to understand.
David’s execution of everything is remarkable right from the first pages and will capture readers attention instantly: from the history of Connie and Douglas marriage, to the reason why it has failed, to the thoughts on the family as a whole, to the Grand Tour they embark on.
There’s a sad quality to the novel itself because the tone of it is equal parts ending and beginning. If one thing is clear, if one word can be used to describe Us, it would be LIFE. It’s as hopeful as it is upsetting and shines in all its realistic moments.
I particularly liked the way Douglas sees things. Watching everything unravel in his mind was incredibly real and raw and in a way this novel reminded me of The Vacationers in terms of the tone. David Nicholls zeroes in on human emotions and plays it to its strengths.
Another thing I should note is how he paints a picture for readers throughout the trip. Breathtaking descriptions of each location, which include stops in England, France, Spain and Italy. You feel as though you are right there with Douglas and it’s a wonderful thing.
I would recommend this book to readers of all ages. You can thank me later.
*This review has been revised from it's original April 2015 posting.