Surely I can't be the only BGOer to be reading this?
It is David Nicholls first novel since One Day, which I loved, so I had high hopes for this, and I really enjoyed it.
Douglas, a biochemist not unlike a more believable Don from The Rosie Project, has been married to artist Connie for more than 20 years when she announces out of the blue that she thinks they should separate. They have a big family holiday planned, a Grand Tour of Europe with their son Albie before he starts college, and she agrees to defer a decision until they get back. Douglas is devoted to his wife and decides to save his marriage.
The story of their trip is then offset with flashbacks of the history of their relationship.
Douglas is a believable, well rounded character. I found his uptight nature very sympathetic - I am a bit like that too. The family scenes are well done; there is a fundamental clash of outlooks between Douglas and Connie which is painful. And, a bit like One Day, there are many observations about modern life.
The one thing that bothered me was Albie. I found him quite old for his years, and it was the one unrealistic note for me in the book. But maybe that's what happens when your mum's an old hippy. Or I must know a lot of very sheltered teenagers.
I finished this on audiobook on New Year's Eve. I had pretty low expectations of it, having listened to Nicholls' follow up "The Understudy" in 2006 and thinking it easygoing fluff but nothing more.
This is much the superior novel. It's still pretty lightweight, but it had moments where events made me cringe, which is the sort of emotional connection I don't make with every book.
Brian Jackson, the narrator, did remind me of Adrian Mole rather too strongly as a comic creation, especially in his pining for the Pandora-like Alice Harbinson and it is pinpoint accurate in its recreation of 1980s student life. A fun read.