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Us: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 28, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2014: At an ungodly hour one summer morning, a time when most of us cannot digest a simple greeting let alone any grand revelation, Douglas Petersen’s wife, Connie, informs him that she doesn’t want to be married anymore. Or rather, she’s not sure. Mind you, this is no fickle woman and this is not an admission she makes lightly. Connie and Douglas have been together, and happily so, for almost two decades. They have a son, Albie, more a chip off his artistic mum than biochemist dad, and that has strained the father-son dynamic. Will an ill-timed family vacation provide the opportunity Douglas needs to repair both relationships? With humor and with heart, David Nicholls of One Day fame takes us through every bumbling but well-meaning attempt in service to this goal. Lest you think the premise wreaks of a rom-com starring Hugh Grant, it is not a story tied up with a neat little bow. Nor is the precarious marriage portrayed as a consequence of cinematically-friendly scenes like slamming doors, flying frying pans, or people leaving the toilet seat up on purpose. Instead, Us delicately and intelligently untangles one of the more complex, heart-wrenching and relatable of relationship struggles—one in which there isn’t a villain to blame. You’ll be rooting for this family, and for another fine achievement from David Nicholls. –Erin Kodicek
“The Petersen family travels through Europe with more emotional baggage than luggage in Nicholls’s winning follow-up to his 2009 bestseller One Day….Few authors do messed-up relationships better than Nicholls.” (People, Book of the Week)
“Nicholls is a deft craftsman, a skilled storyteller and a keen observer of contemporary mores.” (Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review)
“In his latest…Mr. Nicholls again deals with love lost and possibly found, offering an unpredictable (and less grim) ending…. Mr. Nicholls mines the setup for laughs, as he should, but he also provides a poignant story of regret in middle age.” (New York Times)
“A great novel...Nicholls is a master of nuanced relationships. He’s also a pro at delivering a tight, clever structural narrative, as he proved in his terrific previous novel One Day.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“I loved this book. Funny, sad, tender: for anyone who wants to know what happens after the Happy Ever After.” (Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and One Plus One)
“Wonderful. A novel that manages to be both truly hilarious and deeply affecting. I loved it.” (S.J. Watson, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep)
“Nicholls is a delightfully funny writer…and this over-planned vacation makes ripe material for comedy…Us evolves into a poignant consideration of how a marriage ages, how parents mess up and what survives despite all those challenges.” (Washington Post)
“A smartly optimistic romantic comedy that uses angst and humor to illuminate the resilience of the human heart… Part requiem, part reboot, Douglas’s...efforts to preserve his disintegrating family take him on another kind of journey, too, from despair to unexpected joy.” (O Magazine, November 2014)
“A thoughtful, funny, authentic story…Pitch-perfect dialogue and seamless action propel the story forward in a way that feels cinematic.…This is the kind of book that reminds us what it means to be alive. How often does a reader get to feel that?” (Good Housekeeping)
“But for all of their burdens and battles, Douglas and Connie have moments of real joy in their marriage and while it doesn’t always seem like a pleasure, reading about it sure is.” (Time magazine)
“Us is a quick read but a charming one; a portrait of two journeys—one measured in kilometers, the other in the heart.” (Seattle Times)
“What happens when domestic bliss becomes rote? Is the past strong enough to bind us together when it happens? Nicholls’ answer is complicated, poignant, wise—and disarmingly human.” (Miami Herald)
“It’s a great combination of laughs and heart…Just what you need on these too-short days, no?” (Sophie Kinsella, Redbook)
“David Nicholls’s latest… is a smartly optimistic romantic comedy that uses angst and humor to illuminate the resilience of the human heart…. Part requiem, part reboot, Douglas’s endearingly inept efforts to preserve his disintegrating family take him on another kind of journey, too, from despair to unexpected joy.” (Oprah.com)
“From the author of One Day—which was infinitely better than the movie—comes a pathos-laden love story about marriage on the brink of collapse.” (Entertainment Weekly, “A Dozen Books We're Dying to Read This Fall.”)
“The bestselling author of One Day…is back with another crowd-pleaser, this time about a man trying to save his collapsing marriage and connect with his teenage son during a family tour of Europe.” (People, Best Books of the Fall (2014))
“Complex family drama...perfect read for the holidays!” (Huffington Post, Top 10 Books to Read This Winter)
“A smartly optimistic romantic comedy that uses angst and humor to illuminate the resilience of the human heart.” (Oprah.com, “Paperbacks that Dazzle”)
“Nicholls is a master of the braided narrative, weaving the past and present to create an intricate whole…. A funny and moving novel.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Nicholls brings his trademark wit and wisdom to this by turns hilarious and heartbreaking examination of a long-term marriage…. This tender novel will further cement Nicholls’ reputation as a master of romantic comedy.” (Booklist (starred review))
“For those who loved One Day, the author’s latest is another heart-grabber about discovering what makes us happy and learning to let go.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Liked One Day? Then you’ll find this absolutely fabulous.… Very funny and very moving, often at the same time.” (Daily Mail (London))
Top customer reviews
I also don't like books that are predictable and this is not at all which got bonus points in my eyes.
This book is about relationships, stretching ourselves, reaching way out of comfort zones and the complications of living life without challenging it.
uuuummm............when I read the last word, I just felt frustrated, annoyed. Perhaps that is a good thing?? ..at least it left me with some sort of feeling, not necessarily a good one. The book has three main characters - him, her and their son. The story goes back and forth between present and past. There are good parts, situations sorted and results arrived at. But I just wanted to grab the author and shake him! He comes across as a mixture of Rowan Atkinson's Mr Bean and Felix, from Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple". So draw your own conclusions!
"Us", by David Nicholls, is the story, past and present, of Douglas and Connie, narrated by Douglas. In the present, the family has embarked upon a Grand Tour of Europe the August before Albie is to enter college. Traveling is stressful enough, imagine it with a wife who may or may not be leaving you and a son who doesn't want to be there.
It's difficult to tell how reliable of a narrator Douglas is, and frankly, that's the best part of the book - wondering what the TRUTH is. Douglas SEEMS pretty reliable because he does laugh at himself and tells stories at his own expense, relates cringe-worthy and tone-deaf remarks, and admits "jokes" that land flat.
But as he describes his courtship and early marriage to Connie, the facts belie his stated adoration of her. He says he's extolling her virtues, but the reader gets the sense that she's a stuck-up, controlling, snob. What's true?
Albie, also comes across as a spoiled, sullen, immature jerk, whose disdain for his father seems excessive, even understanding the de rigueur father-son Alpha Male conflict. Albie and Connie's collusion with each other and their exclusion of Douglas is uncomfortable and puzzling.
I enjoyed this story and Nicholls' writing is - as usual - stellar. I think it was a little over-long, however.