Written from Douglas’ perspective we get two stories simultaneously. The first is in the here-and-now, the dramatic and often hilarious account of the obviously doomed Grand Tour. Meticulously planned by Douglas, the unravelling of the Tour is expected early on and when it happens, it doesn’t disappoint.
The second story is Douglas looking back on his twenty-five years of marriage, from how he first met Connie through all the ups and downs of learning to love and live with someone who is his polar opposite. And there is the rub: These two should probably never have been together to begin with.
Douglas is a straight laced guy, organised, factual, scientific in his views of the world and everyone in it. Connie on the other hand is a free spirit: an artist with an energetic and flighty soul, hungry for experiences, impetuous, and highly disdainful of the dull and drab. It’s a minor miracle that this seemingly ill-matched couple fall in love and marry, and as the story of their life together unfolds in well observed detail and wry wit, it’s easy to see why they would become so derailed.
Nicholls does not shy away from any of the ups and downs that Connie and Douglas share in the marriage: house moves, new jobs, affairs, bad dinner parties, old lovers, hated friends. Everything is believable and the humanity is drawn out often in ghastly chunks that I’m sure many of us would not want to view head-on in our own lives.
This book is a swift and easy read and had me hooked for the duration. The major characters are complete, well drawn and believable. Funny stuff that’s great for a light holiday read, but with emotional depths way beyond the merely throw-away.