As you can see from the picture of the cover, one reviewer claimed that Us is "[e]ven better than One Day. I loved One Day, so this is a bold claim, but how did Us measure up?
In the first chapter of Us, Connie Petersen announces her intention to leave her husband, Douglas, after almost twenty-five years of marriage. Douglas is shocked by this news, and vows to save his marriage before it is too late and Connie leaves him forever. They have already planned a "Grand Tour of Europe" for the summer, and decide that despite Connie's intentions it should still go ahead. Together with their teenage son, Albie, they visit various cities, including Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna and Munich. Will the trip convince Connie to change her mind?
Us is narrated by Douglas, and throughout the novel, his narration gives the reader insight into his relationships with his wife and son, often through the use of flashbacks. These flashbacks are effective as they help us to build a picture of each character. It is clear that Douglas loves them both, but his interests and lifestyle are so different from his wife's that at times, it is difficult to understand what brought them together in the first place. Albie is similar to his mother, which means that his relationship with Douglas is often strained. In view of the conflict, it is sometimes questionable whether Douglas is a reliable narrator. This is reinforced by the alternative summaries towards the end of the book. The questions surrounding Douglas' reliability, and his negative view of events, made it difficult for me to connect emotionally to the characters.
The second half of Us focuses on Douglas' relationship with Albie. I found this part of the novel much more interesting, as Douglas attempts to reconcile with Albie, and make amends for the tension which has plagued their relationship, both on "The Grand Tour" and as Albie was growing up. I would have liked this to have been explored in more detail.
Overall, I found Us easy to read, particularly in terms of its style. However, despite Nicholls' efforts to paint a thorough picture of each character, I found it hard to "like" each one, and invest in their story. In truth, I was expecting a novel similar to One Day, and found Us was unable to grip me in the same way.
Us is available from Amazon.