Mar 3, 2015

Hangriness. 'Us' by David Nicholls.

There are life's challenges and then there are Life's Challenges.

And for me, the invitation to 'fast from 12 midnight' is a challenge worthy of being typed in bold italics.  Despite the fact that I've done it countless times before for various tests and procedures, I seem to approach every fast with the same anxious twitchiness.  It's the waking up and knowing that breakfast will be hours away yet.  It's the break from the familiar routine of putting the kettle on (yes, even black tea is a no go because it affects your insulin levels) and reaching for the cereal, milk and fruit.  It's not having anything sustaining to sip or chew as you read the paper or listen to the radio.  It just plain sucks.

In the waiting room, I make things even harder for myself by dreaming about breakfast.  Which of course seems hours and hours away in those final minutes of fasting.  Hangry is a perfect word to describe the moment.

If there is anything good to come out of fasting (other than hopefully an all clear on the routine screening blood test front), it is that the first meal that breaks that fast tastes like heaven.  

Bag - Mulberry Bayswater, skinnies - J Brand, belt - GAP, thongs - Cotton On.

Being day off Tuesday, I am wearing what I've worn every Tuesday this year.  Skinny jeans, a T shirt and black thongs.

Dress - Next, necklace - Lovisa.

Yesterday was all about the power of flowers and the statement necklace.  All of which perfectly co-ordinated with a book I've just finished reading.

'Us' by David Nicholls has taken me with it across Europe for most of the weekend.  It is the story of Douglas, a precise and slightly repressed scientist who is facing the end of his decades long marriage to the artistic and free spirited Connie.  Their son Albie is growing apart from them both and is on the verge of adulthood.  Albie was always closer to Connie and though Douglas tried as hard as he could to build the bridge of fatherhood to his son, the foundations of the bridge were never strong and the arch of that bridge never quite made it between them.

As Albie had just finished high school, it was decided that the family would celebrate by going on a Grand Tour of Europe together, taking in Amsterdam, Rome, Venice and Paris.  Just as Douglas was finishing his meticulously timed and annotated itinerary of the trip, Connie announces some devastating news.  She wants out of the marriage and isn't sure if the family trip would be such a good idea after all.  Douglas manages to convince her and Albie otherwise and off they go on a trip that will change them all.

The novel is narrated from Douglas' point of view.  Douglas is articulate, intelligent and keenly observant about the world around him but his insight and judgement can be painfully lacking.  But that's so easy to say about other people's thoughts and actions isn't it?  The onlooker can see how a parent that doggedly strives for academic excellence and the rewards of hard work could sadly disconnect with a child who sees life as an artistic experience.  The onlooker can predict that a man who is also married to his career could end the day with no patience for the marriage he left behind at dawn that day to begin the long commute to work.

But I can't hate Douglas and his stubbornly 'black and white' view of life and relationships.  He deeply loves both Connie and Albie and would do anything for them both.  The Tour is a clever metaphor for this as the family negotiates marijuana cafes in Amsterdam and the idiosyncrasies of different parts of Europe.  I enjoyed the travel narrative as much as the central plot.

To me, 'Us' is a coming of age novel of middle adulthood.  It captures the emotions and life changes that are familiar to anyone who's been married, been a child, been a parent, grieved the loss of a parent or who suddenly realises that their dirty thirties have come and gone.  It's that time in life after you've devoted years to your marriage, family and career and suddenly wonder what it is that would really make you happy and content.  And also have the courage to let go of what should be making you happy but really, really isn't and instead go in search of true if somewhat unconventional happiness.

1 comment:

  1. Might have to read that one.
    Am reading "a kind worth killing".
    Really good.
    Stay lovely xx


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