Douglas and Connie have been together for nearly 25 years. Then one night Connie wakes Douglas and informs him she is leaving…but not until after one last family holiday across Europe with their surly 17 year old teenage son (i.e your typical 17 year old).
Yeah this can only end well!
Ok I’m going to be upfront. My rating of this is probably a bit unfair. I’ve only given it 2 stars when by rights it probably deserves 3 or at least 2.5. For my own personal reasons I never connected with the story and never enjoyed it. I found it work. Hence the rating. However it is well written. Nicholls creates characters which are extremely realistic if not likeable. You’ll never find yourself rooting for any of them. Nicholls has a brilliant understanding of humanity, of people, with all their flaws. He shows in a realistic manner what it’s like when relationships break down, be it a relationship between two partners or that between a parent and child. He pulls few punches in showing the grim reality of how these things can happen, and that live doesn’t always end happily ever after.
Yet for all that, and notwithstanding my own personal reasons for not enjoying it, it is nowhere near the level of One Day. There’s a touch of the difficult second album about it. There’s that sense that yes there are some good points, but overall it just doesn’t quite work. Maybe it’s the fact the characters are all so unlikeable. Let’s face it even with an anti-hero/heroine we still want to cheer for someone. Maybe it’s the idea that anyone would willing agree to go on a long holiday with the person who has just informed them they are leaving them after it. I mean such a thing can only end well! Won’t be stressful at all! Whatever it is, something just isn’t there. That magic! That spark! That something you find in truly brilliant books!
Is it worth reading? Probably, if you want an easy read which is at least relatively well written. Is it a book that will stay with you? No. I’ll have forgotten it by tomorrow. Hell I’ll have forgotten it in an hour.