Half way through my 20 2015 books reading list for this year so I have some catching up to do over the next few weeks. I chose to read ‘Us‘ purely based on my love for the book ‘One Day‘ written by the same author, David Nicholls.
I loved the book, One Day, purely for its structure. If you haven’t read the book it is based on two characters, seeing only a glimpse of their lives on that one day each year. It left you wanting more, frustrated to see on the next page a new chapter, knowing that the story would have moved another year on. The characters were believable with unlikable qualities, his female characters stronger than the males and with ‘Us‘ I was expecting an unhappy or ‘realistic’ ending to match ‘One Day‘.
Us is in no way a happy book. Starting of with a husband being woken in the night by his wife telling him she thinks their marriage is over it unravels into a rather unbelievable and depressing story. Rather than fighting for their marriage or simply separating the husband, Douglas, for some reason ends up funding a long, unenjoyable and extravagant trip around Europe for his wife, Connie, his petulant son, Albie, and himself.
The story is told entirely by Douglas and flits between their European journey and a telling of how he and his wife came to be. The failure of the marriage seems to fall entirely down to Douglas despite learning mid way through of Connie’s infidelity 6 months into their marriage. Connie always takes the side of their son, even to make fun of and degrade Douglas. Connie’s character for me was very one dimensional, a failed arty soul, repressed by a supportive but uncreative, structured husband. Douglas is far off from perfect but throughout the book my mouth dropped at the behaviour accepted by their son Albie, and supported by wife Connie. I have never known a parent who would accept such rude, disrespectful behaviour or a teenager who would turn down an all expenses paid trip around Europe. It was hard to feel sorry for privileged and pretentious Albie, despite the authors intentions it was purely obnoxious teen angst.
The book was very slow paced with long descriptions of each European destination, if it weren’t for my reading list I wouldn’t have finished it. Knowing the author it was easy to predict the ending, life goes on. A gloomy book for me that I know many have enjoyed but if this is what married life and parenthood was actually like count me out, I’d rather me alone than with that mardy bunch!
Next on my 20 2015 books reading list is Still Alice, I haven’t watched the film but the book is fantastic so far…