Lynne King's Reviews > Us

Us by David Nicholls
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
15736557
's review

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, fiction-uk

A major error was pointed out by several GReaders for which I thank them and as a consequence I rewrote the review. I felt that my previous review did not do justice to the book.

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?

Now that is indeed a strong statement and how would you, as a spouse/partner, relate to that when your fifty-four year old husband, healthy, an academic and certainly not infirm makes that statement.

I confess that I have never heard of this author at all. I was in Stansted Airport, London about ten days ago and I hate this airport with a passion. Why? It’s the security as it takes forever. So arriving three hours in advance after staying at the Radisson at the airport when they ripped me off with a Caesar salad and a glass of white wine, the waiter actually wanted a gratuity, I was not in the mood for any nonsense. People, people everywhere. Living in rural France for nearly fourteen years, the idea of all these individuals being so close to me, so many different languages drove me to despair. Keep away from me! I like my space and my privacy.

So W. H. Smith to the rescue. Well to me it was like entering into a sweet shop. Normally I don’t find anything in there that I like but there was certainly choice on that particular day. I’m a book addict and there is no getting away from it. I only wanted one book and ended up with six. But “US” by David Nicholls caught my attention for several reasons. Firstly, it was the title, then the colour red on the cover, the fact that book was longlisted (why not shortlisted?) for the Man Booker Prize 2014, and I have a very good friend who is called Douglas but finally it was the blurb that clinched it for me!

The novel is skillfully crafted and structured showing the current situation in relation to Connie’s and Douglas’ marriage and alternating with the twenty-first century version of the Grand Tour.

With backdrops of England, France, Italy and Spain, the reader is taken through a kaleidoscopic narrative which is stunning. The descriptions of Paris and Florence with their art were also exceptional.

Whenever I read a book and finally put it down, I always return to the part that leaves a lasting impression on me and this is when Douglas is in Barcelona and meets a smack of jellyfish (I had no idea what you call a group of jellyfish and this appears to be the appropriate definition – I guess they do “smack” in a way) whilst swimming in the sea. There are quite disastrous consequences here but gripping reading…

The novel is witty, humorous, soul-searching with tear-jerking sections, in fact a tragicomedy. Certain passages were indeed quite sad but I ended up laughing for some obscure reason.

Just imagine, you are a middle aged man who has always loved his wife from the day he met her but regrettably for him, he did become a trifle complacent as seen in the book but he was totally unaware of this at the time.

Their son Albie (also known as the “Egg”). Now, you tell me. Why would you call your son Egg? That’s completely beyond me but then Egg plays a vital part in the breakdown of a marriage. Connie, to all intents a purposes does love her husband Douglas. I know that opposites supposedly attract but Connie being an arty type, who can indulge in light drugs is such an opposite to Douglas, a biochemist but then love works in wondrous ways as we all know and they marry, much to Douglas’ amazement.

The problem is the wretched son, Albie, who is planning to go to university to study photography and what follows is a wife who finally states that with the departure of their son to university, she will also leave Douglas after the three of them return from their planned Grand Tour. No date is given but the strain of all of this makes Douglas determined to maintain his relationship with his wife. But will he succeed?

This is the most amazing odyssey of a man who wants to retain the love of his son and wife. It is truly wonderful, multi-faceted and I loved it. As for the ending? I was in a way disappointed but then… Well it’s for you the reader to find out.

The novel is witty, humorous, soul-searching with tear-jerking sections, in fact a tragicomedy. Certain passages were quite sad but I ended up laughing for some obscure reason.

An absolutely wonderful book! Please read it! You will be, I’m convinced, as entranced as I was.

114 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Us.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

October 18, 2014 – Started Reading
October 18, 2014 – Shelved
October 18, 2014 –
page 119
29.75% "Having spent a week in Ireland I needed a book to read on the plane to France. W.H. Smiths at Stansted Airport had books by authors that I had never heard of. Well I looked at and purchased six books and one was purely on a whim. This was an unknown author to me but the story appealed to me. It is absolutely WONDERFUL. Look for it and read it. I need say no more! Fiction at its most brilliant…"
October 26, 2014 – Shelved as: favorites
October 26, 2014 – Shelved as: fiction-uk
October 26, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Agnieszka (new)

Agnieszka I hear you , Lynne ! And definitely want to read that one. Wonderful review . Also thanks for the rec :)


Lynne King Agnieszka wrote: "I hear you , Lynne ! And definitely want to read that one. Wonderful review . Also thanks for the rec :)"

Agnieszka,
I was entranced and mesmerized with this book. It's wonderful so do read it!


message 3: by Renato (new)

Renato Magalhães Rocha Thank you, Lynne, for this great review and for recommending this book to me. I had briefly read about it before, but now you sparked my interest about it. Added to my list. Thanks again! :-)


Lynne King Thanks for that Renato. I don't normally recommend books but this really touched me.


message 5: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala Love your Stansted story, Lynne - had to overnight there recently myself after missing a connecting flight and sympathize with everything down to the Caesar salad episode! W H Smith is what frustrate me the most about that airport though - I never find anything I want to read there. You were lucky - I would have missed that book as I have bad memories of a previous title of Nicholls' - One Day. This one sounds much, much better.


message 6: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook Tks for recommend.


message 7: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls Correction: author is David Nicholls not Douglas Peterson.


message 8: by Lynne (last edited Oct 27, 2014 02:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynne King MJ wrote: "Correction: author is David Nicholls not Douglas Peterson."

You're quite right MJ. Several other people have already pointed this out and I'm going to change it now!

Thanks for that. Greatly appreciated.


message 9: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls Lynne wrote: "Thanks for that."

Sorry for the pedantic poke. Great review!


Lynne King MJ,

A pedantic poke. My... There are various interpretations to that of course!

I rewrote the review too.


Lynne King Fionnuala wrote: "Love your Stansted story, Lynne - had to overnight there recently myself after missing a connecting flight and sympathize with everything down to the Caesar salad episode! W H Smith is what frustra..."

No Fionnuala there was quite a good selection in W.H. Smiths on that day. Normally I cannot find anything.

I've rewritten the review too as the previous one did not do the book justice.


message 12: by Dolors (last edited Oct 27, 2014 05:13AM) (new)

Dolors As opposed to other goodreaders, I enjoyed Nicholls' previos book "One Day" (the movie wasn't half as good though), even though I'll admit the story was clichéd and overly tragic, but I did enjoy the banter between the characters. I have also read his Starter for Ten and spent a couple of days laughing out loud like a loony. Nicholls' writing can be funny like that. He is perfect to read on planes so finding him in Stansted Airport makes a lot of sense! :) Don't know about the previous version, but I loved reading this edited review Lynne, thank you.


message 13: by Cecily (last edited Oct 27, 2014 06:40AM) (new)

Cecily A great review, but I'm slightly wary of this: I'm virtually the same age as Nicholls, and we attended the same university (not that we knew each other), so his previous two novels, especially Starter for Ten, had intriguing parallels with my own life. I'm not sure I want to see parallels with a dysfunctional couple who have a son the same age as mine!


Lynne King Cecily wrote: "A great review, but I'm slightly wary of this: I'm virtually the same age as Nicholls, and we attended the same university (not that we knew each other), so his previous two novels, especially Star..."

Thank you Caroline and did I laugh at your last sentence!


message 15: by Mikey B. (new)

Mikey B. An excellent review

- a son named Egg??!!

>>. I only wanted one book and ended up with six.
definitely relate to that!

I worry, as Cecily, that this book, with a couple close to my age with a "grown-up" son (Egg) - might be too perilous to embark on - but if it has humour I can appreciate that!


message 16: by Lynne (last edited Oct 27, 2014 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynne King Mikey B. wrote: "An excellent review

- a son named Egg??!!

>>. I only wanted one book and ended up with six.
definitely relate to that!

I worry, as Cecily, that this book, with a couple close to my age with a "..."


Thanks Mikey.

Yes I also wondered how the Egg came in as a name!

Actually the book is full of humour and Albie seems to be your typical teenager who can be "difficult" at times! But there is indeed fun in his antics...


message 17: by Steve (new)

Steve Looks like one with real potential if you and the Man Booker committee agree, Lynne. Thanks for the excellent review letting us know.

As for the name Egg, maybe it's a shortened variant of an all-too literal sobriquet Egg and Sperm. :-)


message 18: by Lynne (last edited Oct 27, 2014 10:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynne King Dolors wrote: "As opposed to other goodreaders, I enjoyed Nicholls' previos book "One Day" (the movie wasn't half as good though), even though I'll admit the story was clichéd and overly tragic, but I did enjoy t..."

Thanks for your comment Dolors. Yes there are mixed reviews on his previous books. I've read quite a few of them but liking a book, as we all know, is a question of taste but I just loved this book! It struck a chord with me and that's the main thing.

You are always a great encouragement to me Dolors. This, as you know, has not been a good year...


Lynne King Steve wrote: "Looks like one with real potential if you and the Man Booker committee agree, Lynne. Thanks for the excellent review letting us know.

As for the name Egg, maybe it's a shortened variant of an all..."


You are so funny Steve! Thank you. Made my evening.


message 20: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Steve wrote: "As for the name Egg, maybe it's a shortened variant of an all-too literal sobriquet Egg and Sperm. :-) "

Or more prosaically, it might be a diminutive of Edgar, like Egg in the 1990s TV drama "This Life".


Jeffrey Keeten It sounds wonderful Lynne! Adding it to my list.


Lynne King Jeffrey wrote: "It sounds wonderful Lynne! Adding it to my list."

Jeffrey, Please read this soon. You would write such a wonderful review!


message 23: by Gina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gina Great review!


Lynne King Gina wrote: "Great review!"

Thank you very much Gina. All I can say ad nauseum is do read the book! You won't regret it and that's for sure.


Millie He is called "Egg" because Albie-albumen-egg white-egg. It is mentioned a least twice in the text.


Ronna Have to admit that I was surprised so many obviously careful readers missed that. Other than that, loved the review, loved the book.


Lynne King Ronna wrote: "Have to admit that I was surprised so many obviously careful readers missed that. Other than that, loved the review, loved the book."

Thank you Ronna. Sorry for the belated reply but I haven't been on Goodreads too much recently. Too busy workwise regrettably!


Seemita Going through your review gave a happy sort of déjà vu and I am glad we can feel a certain joy if not absolute joy when we turn the last page.

Oh wonderful, Lynne! It is a tragicomedy indeed! Ah.. Why didn't I think of that adjective in my review? :)


Lynne King Seemita wrote: "Going through your review gave a happy sort of déjà vu and I am glad we can feel a certain joy if not absolute joy when we turn the last page.

Oh wonderful, Lynne! It is a tragicomedy indeed! Ah....."


Glad that we both thought alike on this review!


message 30: by Misha (last edited Jul 28, 2015 08:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Misha Hmm, I wonder if the reviewer selected to do the review in the style of the book's narrator by accident. I mean the airport and all those people around are just as irritating as insufficient amount of detergent in the dishwasher that Douglas finds so frustrating.


Lynne King Misha wrote: "Hmm, I wonder if the reviewer selected to do the review in the style of the book's narrator by accident. I mean the airport and all those people around are just as irritating as insufficient amount..."

Hello Misha,

Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment.

Looking at this review again, I agree with you wholeheartedly that the comment about the airport was irritating but then that was the way I was feeling at the time. Ideas do indeed change...


back to top