October saw the publication of Us by David Nicholls, the follow-up to the wildly successful mega-seller One Day. As with One Day, Us has elements of the romantic comedy, albeit moved on somewhat from boy-meets-girl formula. But the central theme in the book is family, specifically the relationship between frustrated father, Douglas Petersen, and his stroppy teenage son, Albie.
As the book takes us on a European grand tour with the Petersens there is fighting, rebellion, embarrassment and heartache, with Douglas battling to hold his family together. Every father wants to be friends with his son and seeing the deterioration of the relationship between Douglas and Albie is hard. The apple rolls further and further away from the tree - although Douglas's love and affection for his son is never in doubt.
Fathers are often given a bad rep in novels. They are absent, ineffectual, or the source of a lifetime’s worth of psychological problems. But there are some good ones out there, Douglas in Us among them.