Book Review: Us by David Nicholls

usTitle: Us
Author: David Nicholls
Genre: Contemporary fiction, British fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher
Number of pages: 416
First line: 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.

Goodreads blurb: ‘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?’

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

So, once again, I have waited too long to write a review, and am stuck trying to remember all the insightful, witty things I wanted to say. I’m sorry, but I think I’ll have to stick with a bullet-points review.

~ I loved Douglas, the narrator. He is curmudgeonly and practical and sometimes oblivious, but he is a man I can relate to. His parental thoughts in particular made me smile, nod in empathy, or laugh out loud.

~ I didn’t love Connie, but that’s okay. Because the book is told from Douglas’s point of view, and in his voice, I didn’t have to relate to her.

~ I am left wondering what it says about me that I relate to the practical, curmudgeonly, non-adventurous Douglas, and find the free-spirit, artistic, and go-with-the-flow Connie to be annoying. Hmmmm….

~ This book is flat out hysterical. There were bits that had me giggling out loud so much that anyone in the room would give me strange looks.

~ The ending surprised me, but didn’t. I know that doesn’t make much sense, does it? I guess what I mean is that it is the ending I wanted, but not the ending I expected. Which means that David Nicholls is brilliant.

~ David Nicholls is rapidly becoming a favorite author; his work reminds me a lot of Nick Hornby, who I adore to the point of ridiculousness, so that’s saying something.

~ Don’t worry if you hated the ending of One Day. Read this anyway – you won’t be sorry.

Posted in contemporary fiction | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Adding to my TBR list – Bookmarks Magazine November/December 2014

Here are the books that made it onto my TBR from the latest issue of Bookmarks Magazine. Have you read any of these?

forgersweareallcompletelybesideourselvesempathyexams
humansnarrowroadtothedeepnorthunfinishedlifeofaddisonstone

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Book Review: How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

howtobeagoodwifeTitle: How To Be a Good Wife
Author: Emma Chapman
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Number of pages: 273
First line: Today, somehow, I am a smoker.

Goodreads blurb: Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.

But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.

I liked this book a lot until the end, and then I wanted to throw it across the room.

Okay, I know I shouldn’t leave it at that, so I’ll try to expound. First of all, I love psychological thrillers; second of all, I love unreliable narrators. This book had both of those, so win-win, right? Not so fast. While the author did a really good job of creating a claustrophobic feeling (it sort of reminded me of the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”), she did something with the ending that totally pissed me off. I don’t want to give anything away, but it really got my injustice alarms going. Yes, it is her prerogative to end her book that way, but I didn’t like it.

She does write well, though, so I may be willing to give her second book a chance. Maybe. We’ll see.

Posted in psychological thrillers, thrillers | Tagged , | 7 Comments