Reeka (BoundbyWords)'s Reviews > Us

Us by David Nicholls
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it was ok
bookshelves: contemporary, adult-fiction, arc, i-dont-get-the-hype, read-in-2014

As seen on my blog:

I tried to give love another chance. The love for David Nicholls' books that is. I will admit, I liked Us many degrees more than I enjoyed the mess that was One Day , and even laughed at loud on more than one occasion. But as a whole, Us was a self-indulgent, teeth grinder of a book. The main character was a mess, and rightly so, because his wife and son's characters were pretty much the scum of the earth.

I have never felt more inclined to throw a book at my wall, with hopes of actually injuring a few choice characters within. Us was a portrayal of the shining moments of love, and the darkened moments of it's decline. Douglas Petersen is on the verge of losing his wife, but for no good reason, in my opinion. Connie Petersen wakes up in the middle of one night with the courage to utter some despairing words: "... I think our marriage has run it's course. Douglas, I think I want to leave you. " What ensues is a maddening switch of timelines between present, and past. 

Present: Douglas, Connie and their son Albie have gone on their pre-booked Grand Tour of Europe, despite Connie's statement, but to the inner joy of Douglas. He hopes to win his wife back, and finally gain some respect from his son while he's at it.

Past: Douglas recounts his unexpected love affair with Connie-starting from before they even met. When they do meet, there couldn't be less fanfare, and more effort on Douglas's part to convince us that what he and Connie shared up until a certain point was pure, and utter, magic.

I was having none of it, and maybe that was Nicholl's intention. The story was Douglas's perspective, his view on what he thought the people around him were feeling, and expressing. I would have loved to have Connie's side of the story, happening simultaneously with her husband's. I wanted to know the thoughts of a woman that I only grew to hate more and more as the narrative progressed-Connie was selfish, dissatisfied, and wholly unlikable. I feel as though we were sometimes meant to see Douglas as the enemy, but personally, I wanted to shelter him the entire time. I wanted him to know that he was doing a fantastic job of being a father, and keeping his family provided for. I wanted the whole book to turn into a big "finding yourself" for him. I wanted Connie and Albie to take their self-centered selves into some other book, somewhere else. 

Nicholl's writing was thought-provoking, the multiple lines I highlighted was proof of that. There were profound statements that spoke to me about my own state of affairs, made words out of thoughts I have never verbalized. Us definitely was a subjective novel, laid out in a way that allows readers to see themselves in either Douglas or Connie, or even Albie. It was a test of my patience, for sure, and I walked away having picked a side. Whose side will you choose?

Recommended for Fans of: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Doppler
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 15, 2014 – Finished Reading
November 16, 2014 – Shelved
November 16, 2014 – Shelved as: contemporary
November 16, 2014 – Shelved as: adult-fiction
November 16, 2014 – Shelved as: arc
November 16, 2014 – Shelved as: i-dont-get-the-hype
November 16, 2014 – Shelved as: read-in-2014

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Oglesby I'm with you ... I wanted to get right up in Connie's face and tell her that you do NOT join forces with your child to make fun of his father. For the love of God! It's no wonder Douglas couldn't develop a relationship with Albie with Connie denigrating him at every turn. Argh!!!

message 2: by Nora (new)

Nora Dowse Totally agree!

Reeka (BoundbyWords) Nancy wrote: "I'm with you ... I wanted to get right up in Connie's face and tell her that you do NOT join forces with your child to make fun of his father. For the love of God! It's no wonder Douglas couldn't d..."

UGH, I KNOW right? I understand that this book was obviously written to garner these types of reactions (I hope, else, what the hell?), but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Reeka (BoundbyWords) Nora wrote: "Totally agree!"

Thanks! I am completely off of David Nicholls now. I've despised all of his work thus far. He's just not for me.

message 5: by Alison (new)

Alison Baxter I detested Connie and Albie and I don't think that was the intention of the book. I thought they were both monsters of selfishness. Albi at least had the excuse of being a crazed teenager - Connie was a terrible wife right from the start. Let's not forget that she has an affair 6 months into the marriage - she shows her stripes early on. He should have dumped her then.

message 6: by Nora (new)

Nora Dowse I borrowed "One Day" from the library and enjoyed it sufficiently to buy a kindle edition of "Us".
However, like others on this thread, I found the characters of self-obsessed Connie, over-indulged Albie (incomprehensibly nicknamed "Egg"), and wimpish Douglas, so irritating that I lost interest. It was an effort to finish the book and I ended up skipping sections to get to the denouement

message 7: by Angela (new)

Angela Schultz I could not stand Connie and Albie - but kept reading waiting for something to happen to make me like them...never happened.

Christine Connie was my main complaint, she was just selfish, awful least Albie was a teenager, and he came around at the end, but Connie...yuck. Good riddance

message 9: by Nora (new)

Nora Dowse Yes! My impression was that the author intended us to admire Connie as a model of an assertive "contemporary" woman. However, she came across as self-obsessed and irrationally biased towards her son at the expense of her husband.

message 10: by Mian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mian Completely agreed. Connie was an absolutely terrible parent and the son is a spoiled brat, especially since she and the family depend financially on her husband's successful career that they like to mock. Like ok, if you're so against him working for an evil corporation then maybe don't spend his money on European vacations. Also the fact that she went back to the ex-boyfriend who apparently was cheating on her with many women is not going to end well for her. After a year or so, that whole thing will go bust and she'll want what she can't have again.

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