Recently I’ve Read … Us by David Nicholls

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It was pleasing to see Us, a domestic comedy-drama rather than an experimental, state of the nation, or heavy historical tome, being long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2014.

The novel is narrated by Douglas, a middle-aged scientist. His life is thrown into turmoil when his wife of many years wakes him in the middle of the night to announce that she is leaving him.

Despite this bombshell, the couple decides to have one last family holiday with their teenage son, Albie. This European Grand Tour is a grand farewell for Connie, but for Douglas it is a golden opportunity to persuade his wife to stay.

For me, Us was terribly cliched. Of course it is the man who is the rational, dull and unemotional scientist and the woman who is the free-spirited, ditzy artist. And of course the teenage son smokes pot and has a fraught relationship with his father.

The material is highly unoriginal and the narrative less than compelling. There are moments of fine humour, though, and this may well be a witty, engaging and insightful novel for some.

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