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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

The Limitations Of Romance

Us - David           Nicholls

Us is the story of a married couple in their mid-fifties who have been together for a quarter of a century but now find themselves on the verge of splitting up. In an effort to salvage their relationship they embark on a grand tour of Europe taking their graceless nineteen year old son with them. Predictably, the holiday is a disaster.

 

Narrated by Douglas, the husband, in a voice that is simultaneously nerdy and likeable, Us is acutely observed, painfully funny and very moving. Nicholls' achievement is to create a narrative that is full of comic twists, witty dialogue and ironic reversals while at the same time making all this feel utterly authentic. I felt like I knew these characters, frequently, I wanted to give them a good shake, but I was always compelled to follow their story.

 

In this novel David Nicholls demonstrates that he is far from being the writer of populist romantic comedy that he is often portrayed as. Us is a compelling and entertaining read certainly, but it is never glib or sentimental. It is a book about the difficulties of human relationships and the limitations of romance.