It is inspiring to read a novel after meeting with an author and learning about the writing of the book. Us did not disappoint! This novel told the story of Connie and Douglas – the artist and the straight-laced scientist – who had been married for many years. As the couple prepares for their only son Albie to move away to college, Connie wakes in the middle of the night and tells Douglas “I think our marriage has run its course.” Despite the shock of this announcement, the little family sight-sees their way across Europe while Douglas tries his best to win back his wife.
Togetherness becomes too much for the father-son relationship, which has been strained for many years. Old hurts (like glued together lego) surface and are rehashed while Connie tries to mediate. Oversharing, undersharing, things that should not have been said and things left unsaid create a widening gap between Douglas and Albie. In frustration, Albie takes off with an accordion playing busker and Connie leaves for home following a scene in a restaurant.
It is hard not to feel sorry for Douglas as he tries, unsuccessfully, to share his feelings and repair his relationships. He valiantly decides to track down his son and through a series of mishaps (including leaving his wallet in a locker, falling asleep in the sun and an unfortunate swim with jelly fish) he finds Albie and attempts to repair their relationship.
The quick chapters fit the cadence of travel, just like the author indicated. It was nice to learn the name of the confection – Soft Mints – that Nicholls referenced during his tales of travelling on the train. I chuckled as Douglas dealt with the bikers after the bicycles and vintage motorcycles fell domino style in the streets of Amsterdam which was based on David Nicholls real-life experience.
For those that are married and those that have teenagers, it is easy to reflect on some of Doug’s actions. Without giving away the ending, the book is enjoyable and comes full-circle. While I enjoyed his previous novel, One Day, Us was superior and worth a read. While the author felt that the story line was too “epic” for a movie, I for one, can picture Doug in the water amidst the flowing, stinging jelly fish!