Yesterday, the U.S edition of David Nicholls‘ new novel Us was released. It was longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, and thanks to HarperCollins US I was able to read an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis quoted from HarperCollins US¹:
Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.
The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.
In Us, David Nicholls takes us on a trip all over contemporary Central Europe. Due to the author’s vivid descriptions, you get to see the replica of Michelangelo’s David on Piazza della Signoria in Florence and a great selection of paintings, including Velazquez’ The Maids of Honor.
The main character Douglas Petersen is a caring but introvert husband and father. He can’t show his feelings and is therefore often misunderstood by his extrovert wife Connie and his teenage son Albie. The relationship between the three is the novel’s main theme and is depicted so realistically you’ll probably be able to relate to at least one situation.
All in all, Us is a wonderful read for someone who misses the summer. You get to travel quite a bit and I think you will probably find someone to connect with. What I find fascinating is the pacing. Overall, Us reads very comfortably, but at some point during the Petersen’s trip the novel’s pace slows down. I think this is intentional, as the trip becomes strenuous for the reader as well as for Douglas and the slow pacing adds to that feeling of strenuousness. If you’re up for a stirring adventure that could make you shed some tears and rethink your own family, Us will be the book for you.