9780062365583_p0_v4_s114x166 It is good to start the new year with a very good book.  “Us” by David Nicholls is such a book.  This is the story of a marriage that is about to break up after more than twenty years.  It is also the story of the relationship between a father and his teenage son that is filled with anger and misunderstandings.  Obviously, this is a serious book, but at times it is quite funny.

Douglas Petersen is a scientist.  He is methodical and serious. When he met his future wife Connie, she was living quite the artistic, bohemian life in London.  Against all odds, their relationship grew into love and their marriage seemed happy.

They faced the tragedy of losing their first-born child together.  When their second child Albie was born, Douglas wanted most of all to be the best father he could be.  Unfortunately, a close bond never developed between father and son.  Douglas plans a family trip to try to repair his damaged marriage and his relationship with his son.

He carefully plans the trip that will take the family from London, to Paris, to Amsterdam, to Munich, and finally to Venice.  From the start, all his good intentions fall apart.  When Albie takes off on his from Munich, his father begins to search for him.  And here is where “Us” gets funny.  Douglas gets involved in one mishap after another and does things to survive that he would never have thought he was capable of.

Well written, Nicholls alternates the chapters between the early life of the couple and their European travels.  The novel focuses on the three main characters, with a backdrop of some of Europe’s most magnificent cities.  A very good book that could become a very good movie.

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