17 March 2015

Today's Read: Us by David Nicholls

Us by David NichollsHow would you feel if your spouse suddenly announced her discontent with what you thought was a perfectly fine marriage? Just to make it more baffling, there is no other love interest, and she isn't planning on moving out for a few more months. Middle-aged Douglas Petersen was blind-sided, but he holds out hope that he will win back his wife during their already planned grand tour of Europe with their seventeen-year-old son.

Last summer, a short time before my son was due to leave home for college, my wife woke me in the middle of the night.

At first I thought she was shaking me because of burglars. Since moving to the country my wife had developed a tendency to jerk awake at every creak and groan and rustle. I'd try to reassure her. It's the radiators, I'd say, it's the joists contracting or expanding, it's foxes. Yes, foxes taking the laptop, she'd say, foxes taking the keys to the car, and we'd lie and listen some more. There was always the "panic button" by the side of our bed, but I could never imagine pressing it in case the alarm disturbed someone, say, a burglar for instance.
Us by David Nicholls (HarperCollins / Harper, 2014, p. 5 [ARC])

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Modern times, England and various cities in Europe
  • Circumstances: Organized scientist Douglas Petersen is informed by his artistic, laid-back wife, Connie, that she thinks their marriage "has run its course." Douglas, not seeing any real problem, hopes that Connie will change her mind after they re-bond during their summer holiday with their son.
  • Characters: Douglas, a research scientist; his wife, Connie, and their son, Albie; Douglas's and Connie's families; various friends in England; fellow tourists they meet in Europe
  • Genre: contemporary fiction
  • Themes: parent-child relationships, marriage, self-discovery, love, family
  • What I loved: Douglas is so well-meaning but at the same time so clueless. He is a pragmatist, whereas Connie and Albie are flexible. Douglas likes schedules; they see travel (and life) as an adventure, as something to be discovered and experienced, not controlled. The story is told through Douglas's eyes, and his misunderstandings and misinterpretations are both funny and sad. A beautiful snapshot of the life of a family who loves each other but just can't seem to find smooth waters.
  • The audiobook: British actor David Haig, the narrator of the unabridged audiobook (Harper Audio; 14 hr 9 min), brought Douglas alive for me. Haig's sympathetic, expressive performance was a perfect match for this novel. (For my complete audiobook review, see AudioFile magazine.)


rhapsodyinbooks 3/17/15, 6:21 AM  

I didn't like this because I detested the mother and the kid!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 3/17/15, 6:55 AM  

Just finished the audio and while it stated strong, the characters were not likable.

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/17/15, 7:45 AM  

I have this one in my closet, buy haven't read it yet. It sounds like one I might like, I like complicated characters.

Nadene @Ttly Addicted 2 Reading 3/17/15, 7:47 AM  

Not sure if this one is for me. Hope you are enjoying it.
Here is mine

Anonymous,  3/17/15, 7:55 AM  

Sounds like it could get tough at times - such a personal topic.

Mine today is from Canary by Duane Swierczynsk

Kym 3/17/15, 8:14 AM  

Sounds different from the usual! Thanks for visiting my TT this week - http://justasecondblog.blogspot.com/2015/03/teaser-tuesdays-march-17-2015.html

Unknown 3/17/15, 8:16 AM  

I feel sorry for him already!

Mine is from a magical suspense novel this week: http://pdworkman.com/excerpt-from-cupcakes-trinkets-and-other-deadly-magic-2/

Unknown 3/17/15, 8:22 AM  

I'm curious how this ends but probably not one I'll read.

My TT - http://fuonlyknew.com/2015/03/17/teaser-tuesdays-106-confess-by-colleen-hoover/

JoAnn 3/17/15, 8:34 AM  

I almost picked this up as a kindle deal, but decided to go the audio route instead. Books with unlikable characters often appeal to me. Hope to listen to this one soon.

Kay 3/17/15, 8:48 AM  

I feel sorry for him too, but wonder if I'd get exasperated with his cluelessness. Might try it on audio. Often, I find that I can do books better that way if there are quirks that might annoy.

Unknown 3/17/15, 9:17 AM  

How sad. I would pick this one up, just to know what happens.

My Tease

Gayle Weiswasser 3/17/15, 9:18 AM  

I think I have the audio for this somewhere - will add it to the TBL pile!

bermudaonion 3/17/15, 9:20 AM  

Hm, I see a lot of people didn't like this one but I know Julie did. I will probably give it a try one of these days.

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian 3/17/15, 9:30 AM  

I'd keep reading. I'm intrigued by the plot and want to know more about the relationship and how things turn out.

Lynne Perednia 3/17/15, 9:57 AM  

Loved a great deal of this book. The drawn-out ending was its greatest weakness.

Girl Who Reads 3/17/15, 9:58 AM  

Doesn't really sound like my kind of book. Girl Who Reads

Nise' 3/17/15, 9:58 AM  

I have this on my stack.

Literary Feline 3/17/15, 10:27 AM  

This is probably one that wouldn't come to my attention except through a book blog. It sounds like a worthwhile story. The way you describe Douglas and his family make me want to get to know them.

Vasilly 3/17/15, 10:28 AM  

I remember Jill's (Rhapsody in Books) review of this book. It sounds like a book I might be interested in.

Laurel-Rain Snow 3/17/15, 10:32 AM  

Already I can see why the wife is discontented! That man's voice and his attitudes are like a fingernail on chalk to someone who "feels," a creative soul. He seems rational, yet insensitive.

I think I would like reading this one to see what ultimately happens...

Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Laurel-Rain Snow 3/17/15, 10:32 AM  

I meant a fingernail on a chalk board....LOL

Katherine P 3/17/15, 10:45 AM  

I'm intrigued but I suspect the mother and son would annoy me and my sympathy would be primarily for the father. It does sound like a possibility for audio though. Hope you enjoy it!

Unknown 3/17/15, 11:48 AM  

What an unusual situation. I'm not sure I'd accept my spouse hanging around after they'd just announced that they were leaving me. They'd be out on their ear! I'm not sure if he's brave, romantic or just a little stupid for deciding to try and win her back. I think I might read this one to see how he goes about it!

Here's my TT for the week: http://deweygirl.co.uk/2015/03/teaser-tuesday-stardust/

CA Verstraete 3/17/15, 12:22 PM  

Thanks for stopping by the blog. I like how you organize yours.

Sarah's Book Shelves 3/17/15, 12:27 PM  

I started this one last year and just couldn't get into it...I had high hopes b/c I liked One Day a lot!

Unknown 3/17/15, 12:55 PM  

I couldn't help, but to literally laugh out loud when I read the reason to her shaking her husband, because the honest truth is that, since I myself have moved into the country, I suffer the same paranoia!

Great teaser!

My Teaser

Daryl 3/17/15, 1:53 PM  

not my cuppa, but still interesting and i know someone who will love it .. thanks!

Cleopatra Loves Books 3/17/15, 2:08 PM  

I do want to read this one but it hasn't reached the top of my TBR yet. I do like the excerpt. Here is my Tuesday post https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/tuesday-first-chapter-first-paragraph-march-17/

Monica's Bookish Life 3/17/15, 3:15 PM  

I haven't heard of this one, but I'd keep reading to find out more about it.
Here's mine

Anonymous,  3/17/15, 3:45 PM  

Not sure about this one.


Sue Jackson 3/17/15, 4:55 PM  

Oh, I just LOVED this book!! It was so heart-warming (at time heart-breaking) but also SO funny! The sense of humor was just great. I also listened on audio and thought it was an excellent audio production - I felt like I was listening to Douglas himself tell the story. I'm surprised to see some commenters say they didn't like the characters because I found them so completely realistic and likable - all flawed but very real.

One of my favorites from last year!


Book By Book

Anonymous,  3/17/15, 5:01 PM  

I loved this one in print, but I bet it was awesome on audio.

Margot 3/17/15, 5:30 PM  

I like the premise as well as the first paragraph of this story. It sounds as if it would be good in audio.

Jillian 3/18/15, 12:57 AM  

I like David Nicholls' writing so this sounds like it could be great!

Belle Wong 3/18/15, 1:05 AM  

This sounds like an interesting read - and even more so, now that I've seen how divided people are about it! It has me wondering if I'll like it or not!

Anonymous,  3/18/15, 3:18 AM  

I remember liking this book when I readi t but have to say it hasn't stuck with me as much as his other books. Not sure why. I know I found it hard to relate to the characters so that is probably the reason. Emma

Amanda 3/18/15, 7:00 PM  

This sounds amazing!

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