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Book Review of Ruth Jones's Us Three

Us Three by Ruth Jones was an easy read that was a pleasurable page-turner from beginning to end.

Us Three follows the lives of three best friends, Judith, Lana And Catrin who, when primary aged children, swear on a Curly Wurly wrapper to always be there for each other. This is what happens, give or take a few decades of quarrelling and perceived betrayals between Judith and Lana. Catrin reluctantly takes on the  role of mediator and go-between over the years and is the rock that holds the trio together. The story takes an unexpected twist when tragedy befalls Catrin. and it is at this point that the unravelling of the friendships pauses as Judith and Lana both need to support Catrin.

The story, Us Three, spans an ambitious thirty plus years focusing from  the characters late teens to early fifties. At times, as a reader, I felt that there was hardly time to pause for breath, but that, I guess, is how life can feel. 
There is certainly plenty of action and events that unfold fast and furiously. Backpacking, boyfriend and husband dramas, alcoholism, fraud, fame and death are just a few of the things that the three women encounter. 

The story,¬†Us Three,¬†is full of hope and warmth. It is the type of book where you wish you were involved in the character’s lives rather than just an observer from the outside.The female friends are really well portrayed and the structure is perfectly suited to the story, It is a straightforward narrative, but awash with opportunities to engage empathetically with. I could¬† imagine it being serialized in the future. As Ruth Jones is the co-writer of¬†Gavin and Stacey¬†this is perhaps not surprising.¬†

Book Discussion Questions on Ruth Jones’s Us Three

  • Which of the three women do you like the best? Discuss.
  • Do you believe in love at first sight like Catrin experienced?¬†
  • Discuss Judith and Gareth’s marriage? Do you think it was a successful one?¬†
  • After Lana pushes Judith at the wedding she falls and afterwards miscarries one of her unborn twin babies. Whilst the two incidents weren’t, according to medical opinion, connected Gareth blames Lana for the death of his unborn chlld? To what extent do you sympathise with Gareth laying the blame at Lana’s door?¬†
  • Explore Judith’s relationship with her mother and stepfather? Is her attitude towards both parents fair?
  • If Us Three was made into a film who would you cast in the main roles?¬†
  • Only answer this question if you are with very good friends. Look around the room who is most like the main characters in¬†Us Three?
  • Nature and nurture isn’t explicitly mentioned in the story, yet it is a theme that runs through the text. Discuss.
  • For whom do you have the most sympathy in Us Three? For whom do you have the most empathy?
  • Did the ending of Us Three surprise you? Were you satisfied with how the story finished?

Bookclub Questions on Us Three (If you haven't read the book!)

  • Is it possible to simply outgrow friendships? Discuss
  • Do friendships that you made in school have a particular significance for you?
  • In the epilogue to¬†Us Three¬†the teacher is touched by the children’s promise that they made over the chocolate wrapper. Do you have any memories of things that young children have said or done that have been touching or funny?¬†
  • US Three¬†focuses on the friendship between three women, though for much of the story two of the women are, in fact, enemies. Is it true that ‘two’s company and three’s a crowd’?
  • How important do you think it is to have strong female friendships?
  • Although this question is hugely stereotyping, as a general rule do you agree that women value friendship more than men do?

Personal Response to Us Three by Ruth Jones

After listening to Ruth Jones discussing¬†Us Three¬†on my favourite¬†Fortunately¬†podcast I couldn’t wait to read it. It didn’t disappoint. In some respects¬†Us Three¬†reminded me a little bit of¬†David Nicholls’s Us.¬†The obvious difference being that Us Three primarily focuses on friendship rather than on marriage. Both Nicholls’s¬† Us and Ruth Jones’s¬†Us Three¬†would be brilliant book club choices. Finally why not enjoy this amusing interview with Ruth Jones and James Corden.

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