Us by David Nicholls

November 22, 2014

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

After reading One Day by David Nicholls, I have since loved his books. So when I went to listen to him speak at the Henley Literary Festival, I became even more enamoured with this Us by David Nichollsauthor and so quickly downloaded his new book, Us, onto my Kindle. However I have had very little time recently to read and only got around to this book over the last week.

It is an easy book to get into with some very humorous and often emotive overviews of middle-aged life and, in particular, mid-term marriages. For anyone who has been married for twenty something years and experienced being a parent to a teenage son, then this book will certainly reiterate one’s own memories of those years. David Nicholl’s characters are always so real; they aren’t heroes, just ordinary people, and his depiction of the everyday life and everyday troubles that we all have to deal with is so ‘on the button’ and makes one laugh at the hilarity of it all.

“Both of our memories were deteriorating, and in recent years the effort required to recall a name or incident felt almost wearyingly physical, like clearing out an attic. Pronouns were particularly elusive. Adverbs and adjectives would go next, until we were left with pronouns and imperative verbs. Eat! Walk! Sleep now!”

“Of course, after nearly a quarter of a century, the questions about our distant pasts have all been posed and we’re left with ‘how was your day?’ and ‘when will you be home?’ and have you put the bins out?’ Our biographies involve each other so intrinsically now that we’re both on nearly every page. We know the answers because we were there, and so curiosity becomes hard to maintain; replaced, I suppose, by nostalgia.”

The story switches from the present to the past, building up the characters and giving the book a magical readability. The journey through Europe with the different ways that each member of the family approaches a new European city is fascinating and made me think of my own family holidays and trying to keep everyone happy and amused.

Us is a sad and funny book and for those who feel that their marriage has run its course and are looking for new love then this book will touch a chord.

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