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Quotes from “ Us” by David Nicholls

Poor St Ursula. Poor ten thousand virgins. Still, it’s a comfort, I suppose, to know that someone is having a worse holiday than you.’
This was what surprised me most about Venice: just how sombre it could be; all those tourists taking snaps and thinking about death. Venice was my first experience of Italy, so where were the floury-handed mammas and tousle-headed rascals that I’d been led to expect? Instead this was a city of closed doors, its besieged citizens narrow-eyed and resentful – understandably so – of the endless waves of visitors even in winter, like house-guests who will not take the hint and go. Even the festivals were gloomy; the Venetian idea of a good time was for everyone to dress up as skeletons. Perhaps it was a legacy of the plague, the silence or the shadows, the dark canals or the absence of green spaces, but walking the deserted alleys and rainswept esplanades, I found the melancholy quite overwhelming, yet also weirdly pleasurable. I don’t think I’ve ever been as simultaneously sad and happy in my life.
She looked over her shoulder and smiled, and I introduced her to Bruce, our pet fruit fly, to show that it was not only the art-school crowd who knew how to have a good time.
I found myself feeling a terrific fondness for him, for both of them, for us, the Petersens, a little pulse of love and affection, a conviction that our marriage, our family, was not so bad, was better than most, and that we would survive.
how was I to tell the good kind of bad taste from the bad kind of bad taste?
To assume makes an ass of u and me!”
Look – we’ll start in Paris, do the obvious stops: the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Monets and the Rodins. We’ll train to Amsterdam, see Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum, the Van Goghs, then find our way – no planes, no cars – across the Alps to Venice, because it’s Venice. Back through Padua for the Scrovegni Chapel; Vicenza for Palladio’s villas; Verona – Verona’s lovely – see The Last Supper in Milan; Florence, for the Botticelli in the Uffizi and, well, just for Florence – then Rome! Rome is beautiful. Stop off at Herculaneum and Pompeii and finish up in Naples. Of course, in an ideal world we’d jump back and do the Kunsthistorisches in Vienna, then Berlin, but we’ll have to see how your father’s holding up.’
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