22 November 2012

Book (P)Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I find it interesting that within the course of two short weeks, I saw a film (the brilliant "The Intouchables") and read two books about wheelchair-bound patients and their caregivers, becoming just another instance of book synchronicity. One of the two novels was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, whose previous book was the wildly popular (at least in the UK) The Last Letter From Your Lover. I said it once before, but it bears repeating: while I don't mind romance as a by-product in my fiction, I rarely turn to books where it is the raison-d'etre. This book is not only a romance, it's a tragic one, but that's not giving anything away if you've already read the back jacket (which proclaims that it's "a Love Story for this generation"). Which means, basically, that while it shares much of the same subject matter with "The Intouchables,"it lacks that film's pure joie de vivre.  Man, I am apparently all about using the French phrases today.

This novel should come with a warning: do NOT pick this book up unless you have a box of tissues by your side and several hours to spare. Because once you start reading it, you're not going to want to put it down, and once you do put it down, you're going to be a soggy, wet mess. Believe me, my cat Murray was quite concerned with my state of mind. Then again, anything that interrupts the administering of chin scratches concerns him.

Up until the motorcycle accident that made him a quadriplegic, Will Traynor was both a go-getter and a player--wealthy, handsome, charismatic, and a thill-seeker to boot.  Lou, on the other hand, is from an economically challenged working class family--bright enough to have gained university admittance, but required to join the workforce to help her family pay the rent when her sister gets pregnant and her father gets laid off. When the cafe where she's been working as a waitress for the last several years closes, she desperately accepts a six-month contact taking care of Will. Will and Lou couldn't be more different on the surface, so when they form an uneasy alliance that grows into the truest friendship either has ever known, nobody is more surprised than they are.

The catch, and of course there's a catch, is that Will and his mother are keeping a secret from Lou, and when she discovers what it is, she reacts with her characteristic passion, matched only by her pigheadedness.  But might Will's secret haunt Lou to the point she makes the biggest mistake of her life?

Let me clear: this is not a book with complicated twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing.  If you pick this book up to read, you will have a fair idea of the story-arc before you're even fifty pages into it, as it's the story itself that pulls you in; but the class issues, the family relationships, and the importance of having somebody to believe in you when you no longer believe in yourself give this book a heft that matches its heart.

NB: This book is already available in the UK, but it will be published in the US in January 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books, a division of Viking.  I read an advance reading copy of the book provided by my sales rep. 


  1. Thank you for the recommendation for this book. I had to stop reading it on the train as I think my fellow passengers thought my entire family had been wiped out in some terrible accident. I don't usually like weepy books but this one, whilst it made me cry, was sort of comforting at the same time. Several friends will be receiving it (along with a large box of tissues)this Christmas.

  2. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it, too. You must live in the UK if you're planning to give it away for the holidays this year. I don't think I realized that, or if I did, I forgot!

    1. Yes I'm in London and my local independent bookstore have ordered 7 copies for me (will buy the tissues aomewhere else!)

  3. I just don't know about books that going into them I know will make me cry. I do like the kind of '70s-inspired cover (is this more of an attempt to evoke Love Story?). And if it's not terribly long, then PERHAPS.

  4. Hmmm...not sure I would recommend this one to you, but it's not overly-long. At least not compared with your last readalong book. And yeah, I hadn't picked up on the cover design (other than humoring my husband's rants about how bad he thought it was) being a throwback/homage to Love Story.

  5. Thanks for the review! I’ve been wavering over this story because other descriptions made it sound like a downer, but the hope and the intimacy of need and and true feelings and love…ordering now!


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