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US: A Novel ~David Nicholls

Monday, October 20th, 2014

“I had always been led to believe that getting older was a slow and gradual process, the creep of a glacier.  Now I realize that it happens in a rush, like snow falling off a roof.”  (I am advised not to use a quote from this copy because it is not a final copy – I did anyway- there were so many good quotes it was difficult to pick one.)

US is all about what a man is thinking; not just any man but a proper English Gentlemen who is very smart and has worked as a chemical engineer for a very long time.  US is also a love story of Douglas and Connie’s 24 years marriage and just what Douglas is contemplating about how he arrived at who he is presently and who he is becoming.  Douglas is contemplating so much about his love and life that he knocks down a row of “bikers” bikes, books a room in a boutique bordello for his family, and swims with stinging jellyfish.  There is that delightful British humor which just delights this reader and Douglas’s vast ability for a good pun.

Connie is an artist and painter and works at an art Museum in London.  When Douglas and Connie were married Connie stopped painting.  Together they lost baby Jane a few hours after giving birth and shared life for seventeen years with son Albie who is about to move on to University.   The family is making a Grand Tour of Art to give Albie an adventure and knowledge about the great works in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.   Connie several days before the Great Tour sits up in bed and says, “I think our marriage has run its course. Douglas, I think I want to leave you.”  Douglas and Connie decide to think about this course of action after the tour.  Douglas wants to strengthen their bonds of love with his wife and son on the tour.   Change is very difficult for Douglas and he has the same hopes and dreams he has been protecting and holding on to for twenty four years.  US is a wonderful read and I am sure I am going to read this book again.

tlc logo TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of this book to review through a new e-book source for me – Edelweiss.   It is an unproofed, uncorrected copy of the book, which will disappear off my Kindle before this review is posted on PW.  I was so pleased to read this book, loved the humor and the story and thinking  happening, and even the trip and discussions of paintings that I am going to purchase this book so I can read it again in the future.  I was so reassured that an engineer could figure out his emotions, talk outside the rules, love, and could change, I found laugh out loud hope in this story.  I believe many of PW’s readers will enjoy this book and this story about change and love.

My best recommendation about this book if you are middle age and thinking about the future – Read US

David Nicholls in the Guardian, “I didn’t want to write a dodgy disappointment”
From Nicholls thought about ONE DAY:

“I worry sometimes that I’m a bit moralistic; always writing about men who are learning to grow up, not be so self-absorbed, selfish or badly behaved. I wonder if that’s dull and liberal and wimpy? I should probably write something that celebrates wickedness. Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/david_nicholls.html#BLKTLPofKmGZqHZv.99

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry 
Walter’s Muse
Unfinished Business

IMAGINARY LIFE: A Novel & A Little Love Story from Spain ~Mara Torres

Friday, September 26th, 2014

“Now I can barely remember the trip to New York, because that’s what’s f*%ked* up about the imagination; you turn your back for one second and it all slips from your grasp.”  (from about 7% of an advanced uncorrected proof- unable to secure a final text)

TLC Online Book Tours  sent me a copy of this delightful story for review and it was a pleasure to read this fun story in the uncorrected proof advance copy.   IMAGINARY LIFE takes place in Madrid and although I have never been there it was fun to experience it through the imagination of Fortunata  Fortuna  or Nata as her friends called this interesting, my guess, thirty something’s search for love.

The story begins as Nata’s boyfriend has dumped her after a long relationship and many adventures.  She is talking about her feelings nearly non-stop and working long hours at a startup ad agency.  Rita and Carlotta, friends, attempt to help her move forward and enjoy life once again.   Nata’s imagination of what is happening is quite humorous as she flies from her bed to her ex-lover’s loft and has conversations she wishes were real.   She fantasies about how the conversation will proceed even as she is walking to answer her doorbell and during her therapy sessions.

The Section Titles are very fun:  Part 1: If Not Now, Then When?  Part 2: Making Plans for Real Life.  Part 3: If Not You, Then Who?   I absolutely loved her fantasized contract for her next boyfriend of how they would form a relationship and bond – Nata’s rules.   The Cosmetics Demonstration home party, which they could not have in the USA because the women are too uptight, imagined experience was very humorous.  Then came the imagined opportunity at a political rally, because all good friends discuss and argue politics all the time; except during the financial crisis when they support each other.

Meeting friends for coffee, nightclubbing and dancing until the wee hours of a new morning was a very interesting part of the story.   There is a “laid back” attitude.    The new expressions and the local references took a few pages to sort and then the book was just fun right up to the arrival of a new boyfriend.  IMAGINARY LIFE is a story about what one is thinking might happen.  Do you do this in your life?  What stories do you create about your daily living and emails? What will really happen and what did you imagine?

From the publisher’s description: “ Original and contemporary, this debut novel, a finalist for the Planeta Prize, has the nerve center of a confessional and introduces readers to Fortunata Fortuna, a character the world won’t soon forget. “

Mara Torres is a journalist and TV anchor in Madrid, Spain and now a writer of a good imaginative, contemporary tale.  IMAGINARY LIFE – a debut novel.

2 AM At The Cat’s Pajamas
The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend 
Incendiary Girls
Our Love Could Light The World