DouglaUs by David Nichollss 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?

Taking a dysfunctional family off on vacation through Europe in an attempt to renew and reignite their relationship sounds like a good idea for a novel, yes?

Well, in the case of Us by David Nicholls, maybe not. Hitting the bestseller/screenplay jackpot with his previous novel One Day did not guarantee Nicholls success with his next!

Our group was very underwhelmed with this half-hearted offering, feeling that the story did not ever really take flight. Most of us felt there was too little depth in the characters, and the setting (that being historical Europe), which could have been written as an important contributor, faded sadly into the background.

As for the Petersens, they may well have been a realistic portrait of an upper-middle class family in turmoil, but the dialogue and plot left them with little scope to grow and in turn the reader is bogged down with the threesome and their continual rancour with each other.

‘Tedious’ and ‘boring’ were among the adjectives used and although there was a glimmer of hope in the latter half of the story, in which things picked up slightly, in general this earnest, yet weak novel struggled to fulfil our expectations.

Lesson learnt? One good novel does make a writer … not!