Sunday, 31 May 2015

#am reading Us

Author: David Nicholls

Tags: #trains #wanderlust #art

Discovered: New in paperback this week at the local library (big fan)

Where read: (in part)The Deaf Cat, Rochester with a de-caff flat white.

What's the story?
Husband and father Doug plans an ambitious make or break holiday in an attempt to save his marriage to Connie and to restore his relationship with teenage son Albie. Doug’s vision to salvage his family life is to re-create the classic ‘Grand Tour’ of old by criss-crossing Europe visiting leading art galleries from the Louvre and Museo del Prado to The Rijksmuseum. 

The Word's Shortlist view:

You have to admire Doug’s spirit. As a staid and decorous bio-chemist, the effort put into planning and investing in the family Grand Tour is first class when, almost inevitably, his enthusiasm is not shared with either Connie or Albie.  

The travelogue aspects of this book are brilliant and you can expect to experience a good deal of Wanderlust throughout. Combine this with scenes crossing Europe by train and this book will have you filling a suitcase full of novels* and booking a Eurostar ticket before you’ve finished the final chapter. Why didn’t publishers Hodder & Stoughton do a deal with Eurostar on a discount coupon?

Nicholls writing style is accessible and laid-back which makes US a straight forward novel to dip in and out of. The diary or blog style structure, rather than conventional chapters, is ideal for reading in short bursts but means that you’re never completely absorbed in the characters. This could be the trouble with Doug (boring, wholesome and parochial)being the narrator versus Connie (pretentious, affected and ephemeral) or Albie (mollycoddled, rebellious and overblown).

The book just about avoids a cliche ridden conclusion. There is always a worrying inevitable resolution to family dramas but US, whilst playing safe, does avoid falling in to this trap with Doug growing into a late blooming renaissance man.

Read on board a speeding train for maximum enjoyment.

*Obviously consulting The Word’s Shortlist before you do

Tweet of the week:

Serious wanderlust + reading list = need some train journey inspiration @EurostarUK @Voyagessncf_com

'That book guy', tweeting mainly about fiction and reading but with occasional sidebars into art, Japanese culture and architecture

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