David Nicholls is quite popularly known around the reading population — who hasn’t heard of ‘One Day‘, which was quite a popular movie that was based on his book? Although I haven’t read it or seen the movie, because I’ve read the synopsis and it does not really end in a happy ever after. I do vaguely remember watching the movie Starter for 10, which was based on his first published book ‘Starter for Ten‘, but I cannot for the life of me recall what it was all about.
[Just to note: my aversion to sad endings applies to both movies and books because I find real life a challenge as it is. I read to be entertained, to escape, to travel. However, I try my best to keep an open mind, and so when I say I did not like how the book ended, I will mention whether it was a personal emotional reaction or just a terribly written ending.]
Anyhow, five years after One Day, he’s back again with Us, this time about a couple that has gotten together in matrimony, but we start with their marriage on its last legs. The first person protagonist, the husband, narrates of how he tries to save it and keeping his family together as they go on a ‘grand tour’ around Europe with their adolescent son.
It is an easy read, although not something I found absolutely compelling. I could drop in and out of it quite easily, but can breeze through pages of it without any difficulty. I cannot say I really like it; it wasn’t bad at all, but not something I could enthusiastically endorse (more for personal reasons — see my note above).
What is good about it is that it is very realistic. It is something that could happen to you or someone you know, and I guess that’s why I’m not too keen on it, because I am on the other end of the spectrum of marriage. I’m a newlywed, and the thought of a marriage, my marriage dying is too sad to think about. I can see anyone having the same conversations as Douglas and Connie had, because it was quite realistic. Someone on the book club mentioned this, and I cannot support it as fact as I haven’t read any other David Nicholls book, but apparently, he is very good at his characters’ conversations (comes from his experience as an actor).
Now the characters you may say as cliché, and that thought had crossed my mind throughout different parts of reading the book. But I also cannot help thinking that I know someone like Connie (ridiculous), or I can see myself or a friend agreeing with Douglas’ thoughts (reasonable with a hint of caution).
This book is about marriage, of two people who are quite vastly different from each other but somehow, at one point, found that the other was what they needed. And yet it was all based on emotion, a feeling of awe (then mixed with love). “But awe is a hard emotion to sustain for hours on end and soon it all became rather boring.”
“Married life is not a plateau, not at all. There are ravines and great jagged peaks and hidden crevasses that send the both of you scrabbling into darkness. Then there are dull, parched stretches that you feel will never end, and much of the journey is in fraught silence, and sometimes you can’t see the other person at all, sometimes they drift off very far away from you, quite out of sight, and the journey is hard. It is just very, very, very hard.”
– David Nicholls (Us)
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Let’s have a chat!
There are people whose greatest desire it to be married, thinking it will make them eternally happy. What do you think about marriage?
Are you more a Douglas or a Connie? Have you had a relationship with an “opposite” of you? How did/do you find it?