The first review of the year, about the last book I read last year!
I started this book sometime in October / November? But I couldn’t get into it. There was a long pause where I honestly forgot it existed until mid-December, and it laid underneath a pile of French textbooks. I didn’t have that sense of urgency. The need to turn to the next page at the end of a chapter because I had to know what was next. The internal battle of deciding to read on and sacrifice sleep, or to listen to the voice of reason and get my arse into bed!
I think I probably owe finishing it to the long commutes on public transport and trying to escape from the feeling of being trapped as a sardine on the tube or bus.
I don’t know if it’s because I loved ‘One Day’ and so expected this book would be on par with it. But I couldn’t support any of the characters, there was no one I wanted to root for. Even if the obvious choice was Douglas. Originally I felt sorry for Douglas, it felt like he was always the scapegoat, always the bad guy when it came to Albie and Connie. Although much of Albie’s behaviour could probably come under the norm for a teenager, he was very manipulative in the sense of playing his parents against each other. But at the same time I found Douglas’ personality infuriating as well, cocky even as if his upbring and logic was above that of his artistic wife and son. It was just obvious from the start that a rigorously structured tour through Europe with your partner who wants a divorce and your son who hates you was never going to end well!
I can’t fault the writing, it was well written. Although I did feel a little self concious reading a chapter entitled ‘sex dungeon’ on a crowded bus! I don’t know if it was Nicholls’ intention to create unlikeable characters. A way to show realistically marriage isn’t a fairytale, and when it breaks down it can be ugly and no one’s perfect, no one’s faultless. I did enjoy the parts where they were travelling, and wish the book was mainly that and less about the characters.
I give this book two owls.