„Us“ by David Nicholls
I read already Davis Nicholls three previous novels, and since I liked those, I also grabbed a copy of „Us“.
The „hero“ of this book is a middle-aged father Douglas, who has a troubled relationship with his son and whose wife thinks about leaving him as soon as the son goes off to college. One last summer the family wants to spend together travelling through Europe. The father tries to save his marriage by planning the best trip possible.
„Us“ is again a book by David Nicholls written from the point of view of a male character and once again he is bit of a looser. Even though Douglas is a successful biochemist, he feels like he fails with his wife and his son, because he is not, like them, an artist and a free spirit. I fail to see why that would make him a looser, but apparently worrying about his son’s education and future makes him in their eyes a small-minded person.
My main issue with the story was that I didn’t like any of the characters. No matters what Douglas does or say, his wife and son seem to think he is a bit of an idiot. They mock him and mostly they get annoyed with him. At some point I started to wonder why Douglas is fighting so hard for his family and actually wished he would just dump them and keep on travelling alone.
The travel through Europe is the part that I enjoyed and that kept me intrigued. The family stops in Paris, Amsterdam and in the end Italy and Spain. They go and see a lot of museums and there are interesting descriptions and background information of all the famous paintings. I really got into the mood to see them for myself and learn more about art.
So in conclusion, an awkward family trip, that makes you want to travel through Europe and see art, but preferably alone.