BLURB: “Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together. So when Connie announces that she will be leaving too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again. The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed. What could possibly go wrong?”
REVIEW: For the record, I am absolutely huge fan of Nicholls’ works – I have read all of his previous books and actually wrote to him and received a reply a few years ago, which I have treasured ever since. For this reason I am already slightly biased, perhaps, in the novel’s favour – I admire the fact that Nicholls takes the time to reach out and contact his fans. However, I will begin by warning anyone planning to read this book that I did spend much of it feeling extremely downhearted – the idea that a couple can just fall out of love through no fault of their own is one that I find very sad, and in the initial stages of the book when Connie announces her upcoming departure I will admit to feeling heavily biased in Douglas’ favour. As the book goes on, however, we learn of Connie and Douglas’ back story – with provides both light relief from the crumbling marriage and some very touching moments – and the reader begins to get a greater sense of what their relationship has been like and why, perhaps, it is beginning to fall apart. The couple’s conflicting views over the right way to raise their rebellious teenage son, Albie – fondly known by them both as ‘Egg’ – has clearly contributed to the disintegration of their marriage, and Albie continues to cause problems when he disappears during the family’s grand tour of Europe, leaving Connie distraught and Douglas running on a desperate mission to find his son and reconcile with him before the father-son relationship is destroyed along with his marriage. Although, as I have mentioned, the disintegration of Douglas and Connie’s marriage is often rather depressing, the reader soon begins to see the friendship and tenderness that still exists between the couple, and soon grows to realise that the end of the marriage would benefit them both. This makes the ending of the book, when Douglas attempts to reconcile with the two most important people in his life, and when he and Connie make the mutual decision to end their marriage and begin moving on , very touching and heartwarming. It makes the reader understand that the book was not intended to cause upset, but intended, perhaps, to show how love can take so many different forms, and these forms can change and be manipulated over the years – but not, necessarily, for the worse. This heartwarming message is what stays with the reader and gives the book as much power and brilliance as Nicholls’ other works.