The good: It’s lovely, sweet and funny, and then hits you with a mega punch.
The not-so-good: Fisher sometimes gets a bit over-eager and does some silly things.
Pages: 454 (ARC)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
My rating: 9 out of 10
Yes, I am a sucker for books that reference some of my favourite reads of recent years, so if you mention One Day or The Rosie Project, my ears will always prick up. I loved the romances in these books that seemed so simple on the surface, but ended up being more complex as time went on. So the burning question is now, is The Two of Us as good as these books? Well, it’s not identical (of course – that would be boring), but it does have many of the charms that made me chuckle and smile, so I would say it’s definitely up there. The Two of Us is a delightful read of boy meets girl with a big spanner thrown into the works and definitely worth your time.
The story is told from the first person point of view of William Fisher, commonly known as Fisher. He’s just over thirty and works in the film industry, with one good film under his belt. But now he’s reduced to doing commercials for toilet paper and tampons. It hurts him, but a man has to make some money somewhere. Fisher has the man cave flat in Brixton complete with big TV and leather recliner and a recently donated Fiat by his friend El. El has Huntington’s disease and can’t drive (or do much else, although his blunt witticisms are a highlight in the book). We join the story after Fisher and Ivy have met and had the requisite number of days loved up in her flat. After nineteen days, Ivy meets Fisher’s family. Yeah, it’s a little bit soon, but they have all the time in the world, right? Um, no. Things start to get a bit cool between the couple and Fisher starts to panic, wondering what’s wrong. The big announcement is that Ivy’s pregnant. Can their new love keep going based on this revelation? Or will things like the age gap (Ivy’s 41), Ivy’s brother living with them and where to spend Christmas get between them?
For the majority of the book, it’s a fun, light-hearted ride as Ivy and Fisher get used to the fact that they are now irreversibly bonded. It’s an exciting and exhilarating time but also difficult – the first argument, not knowing simple things about each other and the decision of where to live. There are also the scenes with El, which run the gamut of emotions from laughter at his observations to sobs as his disease progresses. As the birth comes closer, things take a more serious turn and everything Ivy and Fisher have worked towards comes crashing down around them. Have they built a strong enough foundation to support each other through the hard times?
I commend Andy Jones on being able to tell this story so brilliantly with the number of strong emotions running through it, tying the good and the bad together. Fisher is also an easy character to warm to – he’s an honest, regular guy with some special touches (such as his friendship with the elderly couple in his block of flats). He stuffs up sometimes, he gets things right occasionally but deep down he’s trying to make life easier and happier for his friends. As we only see Ivy from Fisher’s point of view, I felt it took a little more time to get to know her – basically at the same pace as Fisher, but with the added insights of me being a female reader. But the finale – it was unexpected, emotional and turbulent but somehow fit in so well with the book. I really felt for Ivy and Fisher (by now they were like good friends) and their pain was seeping out from the page. It was heartbreaking, but once again Mr Jones turned it around to give the story a smile at the end.
The Two of Us is a funny and moving story tinged with heartbreak, yet still gives us hope and faith in the power of relationships.