Today I welcome TLC Book Tours back to The Book Binder’s Daughter with a novel by David Nicholls which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. I invite you to read my review, learn a bit about the author and visit the other stops on the book tour.
This story is funny, sad, heartwarming and frustrating all at the same time. Douglas Petersen’s life is ordered, and organized and drama free. He is, after all, a bio-chemist and he approaches his life with the precision of a scientist. When he meets Connie Moore, an artist who is his exact opposite in every way, he falls in love and wants nothing more than to settle down into a well-ordered domestic life with her. But he quickly learns that life can be messy. Very, very messy.
Despite their differences and some serious obstacles, Connie and Douglas manage to stay together for 25 years and raise a son named Albie. One day, just before Albie is about to leave for college, Connie wakes Douglas up in the middle of the night and announces that their marriage has run it’s course and she wants to leave.
About half of the book is taken up with Douglas’ musings and reminiscence about how he met Connie, their early years of marriage and their foray into parenthood. Douglas is not sure where things went wrong in their marriage, but he truly believes that for many years they were happy. I felt, at many times throughout his flashbacks, that he was much more devoted to Connie than she was to him. It bothered me, for instance, that Douglas proposed to her in Venice, but it took her three months to finally say yes while he waited patiently for an answer. He didn’t give her an ultimatum, he didn’t bring it up constantly, he simply waited.
Albie is a rather lazy, “artistic,” and brooding young man with whom I was very frustrated throughout the book. Albie has much more in common with his mother, especially since they both have an interest in art, but I found his behavior towards his father oftentimes disrespectful and rude. Connie’s parenting of their son is overindulgent and this does not help Douglas forge a relationship with his son. There is a constant rift in the family with clearly delineated sides as Douglas is constantly arguing with Albie and Connie almost always takes Albie’s side.
Connie insists, despite the fact that she is walking out on Douglas, that the family take their planned tour across Europe. The trip is painful to read about as it seems that Douglas can’t do anything right and his family is constantly laughing at his expense. Douglas really does try to make it a successful trip, but the harder he tries the more he fails. Will this trip finally bring them together or is it a vain attempt to mend something that is irrevocably broken?
This captivating novel is about three very different people who attempt to build a life together, but in the end they are tired of making compromises for each other at the expense of their individual happiness. David Nicoll’s prose is beautiful and I am not surprised that US was long listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.
About The Author:
David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.
Click on the TLC Book Tour logo below to see a full list of the stops on the tours.