I've read a few of Jojo Moyes' previous books - Ship of Brides (loved), The Last Letter From Your Lover (adored) and The Peacock Emporium (meh) - but I think she's moved onto a whole new level with her latest offering.
Me Before You features Lou Clark, a bright but directionless young woman who drifts between dead-end jobs until she eventually (rather reluctantly) takes a post as a carer to a young man who has been left in a quadriplegic state following a road accident two years earlier. Will Traynor had a high-profile, well paid career and a very active lifestyle, until it was all taken away from him in the blink of an eye as he crossed the road to hail a taxi. To say he's bitter and angry about the hand life has dealt him would be an understatement. His family are at the end of their tether, and shortly after Lou is hired she hatches a desperate plan to try to convince Will that his life is worth living.
Sounds a bit grim and depressing? Well think again. I've never noticed much in the way of comedy in Moyes's novels before, but this book had me alternating between laughing out loud and smiling wryly (oh and crying - more of that later), and I was reminded very much of Marian Keyes in her prime. I loved the affectionate banter between Lou and her family and the not-so-affectionate (at first) verbal sparring between Lou and Will. (Their first meeting when he plays a particularly wicked trick on her is absolutely priceless.)
And now for the serious stuff. The subjects of quadriplegia and the rights of disabled people are dealt with sensitively and compassionately. The descriptions of Will's day to day existence, which involves relying on others for almost every aspect of his personal care, really hit home.
I saved the last 50 pages to read at home rather than on the train because I knew that, whatever the outcome, it was going to be emotional, but it's also a very uplifting and life-affirming read. It's not often that I become so emotionally involved in a storyline and the memory of this thought-provoking book and the wonderfully engaging characters Jojo Moyes has created will stay with me for a long time.
PS: The 'comment' below from Brian Kennedy (30.05.12) contains a MAJOR SPOILER - don't read it if you don't want to know how the book ends. I reported it to Amazon a few weeks ago but they haven't removed it yet.
on 19 August 2012
I recently read 50 Shades as many people did and loved it. Im not much of a reader normally but since reading that trilogy I've been dying to read more! So I was looking on Amazon.co.uk for a few days and this book, Me Before You, kept being recommended. I had a quick look at it a few times before deciding to buy it due to all the good reviews I had read.
When it came, and I started reading it, I instantly knew it would be a book I would enjoy! There was conversation near the beginning, and for me thats what I like, some conversation. I dont like to be reading too much 'thinking'. I straight away liked Lou, the character. I think a lot of girls/women can relate to her. She has a nice cosy life.
After reading the blurb, I did think her and Will would fall in love straight away. But it isn't like that. It goes on for a long six months! When I was about 200 pages in, I was getting bored and thinking "where is this going?". But then something would grip me to reading it again. For example, the scene where they are laid in bed together. I thought, somethings bound to happen soon!
When you find out what Will's planning that instantly makes you feel sad for the characters. You dont want ayone to feel the way he does. Its unthinkable! I got so far through the book and really loved it! I couldnt stop thinking about it when I wasnt reading it. I only wish this book was longer and they were together longer!
I love the banter between Lou and Will. You can really picture this happening. I felt like I really knew both Lou and Will.
One thing that I think makes this book so good, is the story of it. Its gripping, its a great idea and I'm sure this book relates to some people who read it.
All the reviews I read said this book was extremely sad towards the end, which it is! I was in tears, crying my eyes out! Its such a good read!
I 100% recommend!
This was my first Jojo Moyes book that I had picked up, something drew me to it in the shop, and let me tell you, I am SO glad I had the opportunity to read this! I have read and heard people saying it is their eBook of 2012 and itfs so easy to see why, I can say it is the most touching story I have read in a long time!
Will Traynor is a wealthy businessman, a daredevil who travels the world and lives life to the full. He steps out one morning and is hit by a motorcycle, resulting in his life drastically changing, gone are the women, exotic holidays and fast motors, and instead Will is a paraplegic now dependent on others to care for him. Lou is a girl who has just lost her job, and in sheer desperation, applies to be a carer despite having no experience. Together Will and Lou face the world together with a lot of laughs, and a few tears too.
Will and Lou worked so well together, this is not your typical chick-lit love story, far from it, but somehow I felt these two were made for each other, two halves of a whole, they seemed to complete each other. They both get off to a rocky start but I found myself laughing out loud at their adventures, their banter, and shedding a tear or two as their story developed.
This is a truly wonderfully written book which touches on many difficult subjects with such sensitivity and knowledge, the struggles with disability and acceptance being prominent. We later move onto another difficult subject, and for those of you who havenft read it, I wonft spoil it for you. Although this book is a fantastic story, it also leaves you thinking and possibly debating the issues touched upon in this book for many days and weeks later, this story will truly grip you and stay with you long after you have put it down.
on 1 April 2012
Warning - contains spoilers.
Will is a thirty-five year old man, who previously had it all, but following a horrendous motorbike accident has been left a quadriplegic, completely dependent on those around him, and who has decided that his life is no longer worth living. Louisa is a twenty-seven year old working class girl with a small life and limited ambitions who becomes Will's hired companion, and becomes determined to change his mind; the problem is that she only has six months!
Not usually my type of book, and even after reading the fantastic reviews was in two minds about reading it, given the subject matter and the fact that I already knew what the ending held. So glad that I did choose to read it though, as I honestly cannot remember the last time I was so completely affected by a book! For the last three weeks I have ate, lived and breathed this book, (and the only reason it took me 3 weeks was because I didn't want to reach the end)!
Coming from a medical background, I entered this book with a firm opinion on my views regarding assisted suicide, and whilst they have not changed, I applaud Jojo Moyes for the sensitive and intelligent way she had handled a very relevant current hot topic and offered it up for debate. I think what really worked was that she drew the characters of Will and Louisa so well and made them so believable, that as a reader you could really identify with where both of them were coming from and became very invested in what happened to them. However, not only did we get Lou and Will's opinions, but also those of a whole host of other characters, which I think really helped give a wide and broad picture of the issue.
The issue of assisted suicide aside though, this book was really a story about two people and how they change each other's lives; and that was where I felt lay its real heart. The slowly evolving romance between Will and Lou is so deftly and subtly portrayed, and rings so genuine that it is a true pleasure to read and experience their journey. Here are two people from completely different backgrounds and who ordinarily would probably never have met; yet they touch each other in ways they could never have imagined. I particularly loved watching Lou grow and gain more confidence through Will's encouragement and the great imprint that he left on her.
It is the characters and their interactions which really make this book. Louisa is so brilliantly vivid, quirky and down-to-earth that you immediately become attached to her. Will is stubborn, determined, bossy, annoying; yet you can't help but fall in love with him.
Even though I was dreading the ending, and praying for a happy ever after; the actual fact was that there was never going to be one and as such I think the ending was actually the right one for the story and probably one which left a greater impression.
Overall a compelling read; one that tugs at the heartstrings and won't leave you with a dry eye by the end, but during which there are so many laughs and injections of humour at the same time, and which ultimately is uplifting! Funny, tender, evocative, enlightening and refreshing... If you want to be told something good then this story is precisely that!
on 15 July 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It begins as though it is just another chick lit book, albeit a well-written one, but it soon enters territory that gets you thinking a lot more than your usual run-of-the-mill girlie novel.
The main character, Lou, is very likeable; well-meaning, generous and rather unsure of her direction in life. A change in job sets her on a completely different course. Caring for a disabled man, Will, she starts to see things rather differently.
The book is mainly narrated from Lou's point of view, with occasional brief chapters from other minor characters. Her character is well-written and she gives a clear picture of Will's life and his feelings as he explains them to her. The insight into Will's life is challenging, and the temptation to envisage all sorts of bright, sparkly happy endings is strong. However, on the whole, JoJo Moyes avoids sugar coating everything and keeps things realistic. There is only one area where I felt she went down a predictable road that I could have done without.
As the partner of a disabled man, I found this difficult to read at times. I felt frustrated and angry and I wanted to shout at Will and reason with him. I think that illustrates how well, Moyes dealt with the themes.
I would highly recommend this book. It will make you think about your views on controversial topics, at the same time as thoroughly entertaining you.
(For anyone choosing the audiobook, the narrator is excellent.)
on 1 April 2012
This isn't the kind of book I would normally read, I thought it would be sentimental and miserable, but as it has so many amazing reviews and recommendations I decided to come out of my comfort zone and give it a go. I am so glad that I did. I loved this book, it is a wonderful read. The book is the story of high flying city boy Will who has everything, the looks, the girl, the job and the money, then one day he loses it all when his spinal cord is severed in an accident leaving him paralysed from the neck down and completely dependant on the care of others. This is where the wonderful Lou is introduced to us. Lou's background couldn't be more different to Will's, she comes from a close working class family who depend upon her income to survive, so that when she is made redundant from the delightful Buttered Bun cafe she has few employment choices available to her and so becomes Will's carer. At first they really dislike each other but in time their relationship develops and becomes a romance. A sweet, real, heart wrenching romance. I love all the characters in this novel they are well written, full and completely plausible. The book is actually full of humour and fun but i have to say that it did have me bawling my eyes out in the end. The book takes you to places that few of us want to go, and makes you question your own values and beliefs by asking the question from multiple perspectives, what would I do if this was me? Jojo Moyes certainly can write! She tells this story in a very human, empathic way without it becoming saccharine and cheesy. I would highly recommend this book, loved it, loved it, loved it.
on 28 June 2012
I bought this book based purely on the fantastic recommendations of so many people on this site and I must say I am SO glad I did, I am an avid reader and get through 3 or 4 books a week and have done for as long as I can remember and I have to say this book I cant remember the last time a book made me "feel" quite like this one,
The characters almost become real, I dont know quite how else to describe it, I felt so involved in the story and really cared about how they felt and what happened, I dont want to give any of the story away but I laughed and I definately cried, alot.
It is a beautiful story that gets right to the heart of the matter and makes you really think about life and what you want from it,
I'm not a loon, I am well aware it's a fictional story but it was one I can NOT recommend enough to anyone,
I can honestly say it is one of the most involving, well written, emotional, sweet and uplifting books I have ever read and after writing this am going straight to other books by Jojo Moyes and they will be in my basket before you know it.
Buy this book, you wont be dissapointed, I certainly wasnt. its a gem.
5 stars isnt enough. it deserves SO much more.
on 26 November 2012
Oh how disappointed I was with this book. I expected great things as it came as a recommendation and I hoped to feel the emotion that I was assured this book inspired. I, however, finished it feeling nothing but annoyance. JoJo Moyes is a writer of romance, a craft that she is skilled in, undoubtedly. The relationship builds slowly and subtly and is the only reason this book got 2 stars from me. I am unaware if the author thought that she was being controversial or nauseatingly politically correct when she decided to make her male lead a quadriplegic young man, but her awkward attempts to 'casually' highlight problems for wheelchair users feel clumsy and deliberate. When you set her awkward approach to exploring disability against her plot of a person who finds his disability so depressing he wants to kill himself (which is the theme of the story), whatever the author's intentions, all the book succeeds in doing is portraying disability as something to be pitied and suggests that the severely disabled are better off dead. The female heroine can't seem to see past the disability, the male lead would rather die than be disabled and I'm struggling to understand why people are so moved by it. I suspect that the same people who see it as 'inspiring' have little if no experience of disability, this book is not inspiring, it's depressing. I seriously hope no one who has recently been disabled happens across it, as I would fear for their mental health. I would far rather that people were inspired by real, positive disabled people, rather than feeling like they have a greater understanding of disability based on a fictional man written to be pitied by an able bodied woman.
on 9 May 2016
I know I am in the minority here, but I just didn't get this book at all. It may be 'loved around the world', but surely most English readers recognise (and yawn at!) every stereotypical character straight out of central casting: chirpy, working-class Lou with her quirky dress sense; the 'bit part' gay cafe owner; brittle, middle-class, twin-set-wearing JP Camilla (who can't come to terms with her son's disability); Lou's parents - long-suffering mum always scrubbing the doorstep and salt-of-the-earth dad on the verge of redundancy; granddad dribbling in the corner; arrogant, jet-setting, City slicker Will (who ends up paralysed from the neck down in Chapter 1); one-dimensional trophy girlfriend Lissy (who can't come to terms with her boyfriend's disability) and Lou's meat-head boyfriend (who can't come to terms with her getting a new job). Lord save us! Even Will's dad (yes, you've guessed it, a middle class former stockbroker, who also can't come to terms with his son's disability) has a bit on the side with 'red hair'. It had to be red of course. All tarts have red hair.
The plot is blindingly obvious from the moment Lou enters Will's life as a carer, employed by his mother to try to persuade him not to end his life at Dignitas. (If you haven't read it yet, pause here for a second to guess what happens....Oh, well done!)
Along the way we get more cliches. We don't meet a single person (apart from an MP who sits on a 'committee') who seems to have ever encountered anyone in a wheelchair. This is especially true of the working classes, apparently. Their is also a clear class divide when confronted by disability - all the working classes stare and talk loudly; the middle classes avert their eyes to avoid embarrassment. Good to know. In Moyes's eyes, however, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. People who don't help are criticised for their lack of understanding; those that do are accused of being patronising and 'well-meaning'. Ouch!
Having created such stereotypes, Moyes is not averse to engaging in a lot of sneering - at Lou's working class family; at her boyfriend and his running mates; at provincial life; at people without education; at Will's middle class family; at his erstwhile girlfriend and work colleagues. Sometimes Moyes is so busy sneering at the cliched lifestyles, she contradicts herself. Will, understandably, is bitter at the hand life has dealt him and longs for his old life of work, money, skiing holidays and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. However, when his ex marries his former business partner ('Rupert,' of course) we are encouraged to join in the sneering at the future they have together (more skiing holidays, 2.2 perfect kids and a weekend house in the Country ). But that is surely the future that she and Will would have had, and the one he can't imagine not now living.
And that's the most worrying aspect of this book - the suggestion that life is only worth living if you are a) able bodied b) are educated and c) have t
money to swan off to Paris, or skiing, or Kilimanjaro. Two out of three isn't enough for Will. Love certainly isn't enough, so in the end he hops it to Dignitas to end it all. Meanwhile he leaves his money to Lou so she can complete the set and - ta dah! - is able to escape from provincial life and make her life worth living.
It left a bad taste in my mouth. Having just lost a close relative who was quadriplegic (and who was 83 when he died), I found this 'life is only worth living if you are able bodied' message somewhat offensive and I guess a lot of people with disabilities will feel likewise. Not to mention the millions of people on this Earth who struggle to scratch out an existence, or live in war-torn regions, or who suffer at the hands of others, yet still find the strength to carry on and even find shreds of happiness in simple things in life. I'm not trying to be too deep here, I'm simply trying to argue that there is more to life than Moyes's utterly Western, middle-class assessment that you are only truly living if you can have sex or bungee jump!
on 5 February 2016
I just want to start by saying, this book deserves so many more than 5* in my opinion. It's a truly beautifully tragic love story, one that will stay with me forever.
Have you ever had a friend tell you to read a book? You tell them ‘No’ that you can’t deal with that kind emotional roller coster? But they keep telling you to read it, insisting that you’ll fall madly in love with the story, with the characters and even though, you’ll feel pain, it will be the most beautiful kind of pain? That the tears that fall will heal you, one by one? Well this is what happened to me.
I’m the first to admit, I’m an emotional person, therefore I’m an emotional reader. I love nothing more than to find myself fully invested in a story from the first page. I want to feel like I’m living the character’s life, that I can feel their pain and share in their joy. When I’m so invested in a story nothing else matters. For me, it’s a rare thing, to find a story that makes real life and everything that goes will it cease to exist, cease to matter to me.
This story did.
I loved Lou right from the very first page, she was so normal, so relatable. I didn’t find myself rolling my eyes or tutting, I found myself laughing and thinking to myself, “She’s like me!” I think any female reading this book will be able to relate to Lou, she’s insecure, she’s not always sure of what she should be doing. But she’s courageous and brave and so incredibly strong. Faced with what she is, I know I wouldn’t be able to be the person she stepped up to be. I’m in awe of her and I think she is my favourite heroine of all time. I cannot fully express how much I adore her.
I fell in love with Will from that very first meeting, something about him reaches inside of you and holds on tight. And it doesn’t let go I can tell you that. I’ve never met a characters like Will, someone who is so completely sure of what he wants and is brave enough to stand by it. To say I have choice and I’m making it. I loved watching how he changes, how Lou changes him, or makes him more of his old self I think is a better explanation. He was a rare and phenomenal character and one I will love forever.
It takes courage to stay true to your characters, to write the story as it should be and not how you know the readers are going to want it to be. I admire Jojo for keeping the story, Will’s story especially, as it was meant to be, staying true to him and his choices no matter how much heartbreak, how much sadness it may bring. It takes a lot of guts to do that.
I was asked by my friend if this story was a 5* after I messaged her, I was an emotional wreck and it was almost one in the morning. I told her, it was so much more than that. Honestly, hand on my heart, one of the best books I've ever read. Possibly the best book because it's not a series, Jojo made you fall in love with two characters so completely and she did so in one book. She made you feel things it usually takes a series to feel, a whole series to build up, it usually takes a lot of invested time in order for me to feel that, but this is one book and when I finished, I was left asking myself one question: What author can make me feel like this with one book!!!? I came up with only one answer.
This tremendous book has taken a huge part of me away with it, and I don’t want it back.