Great Reads! Us – a Novel About Families and Travel
Would it put you off reading Us if I admit that it made me cry and cry? I am quite an emotional soul and prone to tears but it’s a really moving story.
Written by David Nicholls, the author of One Day, Us is about Douglas Petersen, a man who loves his wife Connie and teenaged son Albie but, in typically repressed English style (I can say that since I’m English!), is unable to express that love or make his wife and son feel loved.
Stressed by work and the usual strains of working life Douglas becomes confined by the habits and funny little ways one accumulates on the road to midlife.
When Connie announces she wants to leave him he’s blindsided but determined to keep the marriage intact.
“‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’
‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?'”
Despite the strain between them the pair set off on one last holiday together with Albie in tow. Douglas is determined that the trip will bring them closer together and is desperate to keep his family intact.
But their whistle stop tour of Europe is tense and fraught, driving the family further apart to begin with then pulling them together in the end when disaster strikes.
But is it all too late for their 25 year marriage? Can old love be rekindled or should we be content that it ever existed at all?
As a travel blogger and avid reader I loved Us because the very human story is set against a backdrop of travel. It’s about a family in crisis who try to solve their problems by planning and going on a great travel adventure; a strategy I’ve tried many times over both when I was young, free and single and as a mum. Either way it was to little avail.
Us portrays all the joys, discomfort and hilarity of travel so it’s not all sad. There are a few parts where I actually laughed out loud and I could totally relate to the struggle of trying to enjoy travelling while keeping family members of different ages happy.
Travelling with teenagers certainly complicates things because not only do they know better than their parents they also don’t want to be seen with them. When you stay at home it’s easy to ignore your children as people tend to drift off to their bedrooms or out to see friends. When you travel it’s just you and the family with no one else to take the pressure off family interactions.
Us shows all these difficult family dynamics playing out in train stations, hotels and museums of Europe. It’s a great read for your next holiday, long plane trip or just to enjoy at home.
Have you read any good books lately?! Please leave a comment below so everyone can enjoy your book recommendations.
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