"When an acquaintance revealed recently that he'd married a woman he met by chance on a train, I said, "Very David Nicholls", to which he replied: "Yes, very. It wasn't until three years after that meeting that we actually got together."
Nicholls has become one of the few authors whose name
serves as conversational shorthand: in his case, for the ambushes
of romance. However, he writes beautifully, with truth and wisdom, so you will have to forgive him his lack of uplifting themes.
The book opens with some bad news. Douglas is told by his wife of 25 plus years that she thinks their marriage is over. But she does want to persevere through their summer trip through the great art galleries of Europe with their aspiring artist 17 year old son for his sake. It is unclear why people feel compelled to disclose things as they happen rather than in a kind way, but while this is fiction, the same thing happens in life as well. The trip does not go in any way as planned. Douglas, it turns out, is the last guy you want booking your holiday and Albie, the son, is already more than suspicious that his parents are splitting up and he doesn't want to be monkey in the middle. Douglas works to redeem himself all the way through to the end. All I can say on that count is that is nowhere near as dire as the ending of his previous book.