Us by David Nicholls book review

One Day by David Nicholls is one of my favourite books of all time. I’d solidly say it’s my favourite “romance” book of all time. So when the stars aligned when I saw Us by him sitting on my parents’ bookshelf and then it became available to listen to via Libby, I knew it was time to read another of his.

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Us is Nicholls’ fourth novel, One Day being his third. Us focuses on the story of a dad, Douglas, and his story after his wife tells him she thinks she wants to leave him. He hopes a pre-arranged family trip around Europe will bring their marriage back on track. Along the way, memories of how Douglas and his wife got together and how their son came to be are fed through.

Us plot – 4.25/5

Us is a very down-to-earth story. Nothing mind-blowing or particularly exciting happens (other than some family dramas) but the way that Nicholls writes is so humorous and intelligent that it still remains incredibly engaging.

Something that Us tells me is that Nicholls is keen to tell everyday stories where not everything goes well. I don’t want to ruin the plot too much but this is a raw and emotional look into a difficult marriage. And, like One Day, a very mature and real look into it the fact that Nicholls has absolutely no interest in fairytale endings.

I appreciated this angle a lot. It’s so much harder to write a story about a group of people you genuinely like and not have everything turn out how you’d like than just easily round everything off with a happy ending.

So, despite the plot not racing along, Nicholls’ writing entwining humour and deep, dark stories mean I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Us.

Us characters – 4.75/5

David Nicholls knows how to write real human beings. First-person novels can often put me off as you really struggle to gauge any other characters in the book. However, Nicholls has an incredible talent for bringing real depth and character to these people.

Douglas, our main character is a very intelligent man who grew up with a strict father and so his approach to parenting and as a husband is deeply affected by these factors – meaning he’s resistant to modern ways of parenting and struggles to joke about things that require lowering his intelligence to laugh.

There’s also some small humour that’s ingrained throughout the story that, despite the sombre tone throughout, makes the whole thing feel a little less tense and also makes you feel far closer to the characters as adding humour to any book makes the people feel just a little bit more real.

Us final rating – 4.25/5

Us is the second book by David Nicholls I’ve read and I’d say I still preferred One Day. However, Us gives me confidence that Nicholls is an author whose writing and stories I will always thoroughly enjoy. Nicholls has a brilliant talent for incorporating gritty, down-to-earth stories into his novels. Us is another story that’ll make you feel incredibly connected to the main characters and also feel every emotion they feel and be vying for everything to work out for them at the end. If you enjoyed the writing style and storytelling technique of One Day, I’d say you’d enjoy Us too.

Buy a copy of Us

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