I always get very excited at the thought of a new novel by Jojo Moyes and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed in this one.
Jess’s life is a mess – her ex has left her with two kids (and a smelly dog) to bring up, cash is in very short supply and she’s juggling two jobs just to stay afloat. When her mathematical genius daughter Tanzie gets a chance to enter a competition with a huge cash prize, Jess will stop at nothing to get her there. Meanwhile Ed Nicholls is also going through a bit of a rough time. Tricked into a spot of insider trading by a dodgy girlfriend, he faces losing the software business he built from scratch as well as the affluent lifestyle that went with it.
When Jess and Ed’s worlds collide, a very entertaining road trip ensues. Jojo Moyes writes with such warmth and empathy that you can’t help but like the characters she creates, even if their actions are infuriating and frustrating at times. She manages to infuse her storylines with some heartwarming moments and feel-good vibes, without them becoming sickly or over-sentimental. Although both Jess and Ed’s lifestyles are nothing like mine, I still believed in them and was rooting for them almost from the off. There are some very funny moments (mainly thanks to Norman the flatulent hound) but at times it’s also quite a poignant and thought-provoking read.
My favourite Jojo Moyes novel is still Me Before You (which would take some beating) but that said I was thoroughly entertained and amused by this very engaging tale.
There's 'chick lit' and then there's 'chick lit' (sorry - I dislike the term too). Some I wouldn't touch with a bargepole - I like a bit of 'meat' and depth which is often lacking. Since reading a World Book Night copy of 'Me Before You', I've mentally added Moyes to my list of 'willing to try more' writers. This sounded promising.
And it was. Even though at the heart of it is a basic boy-meets-girl, it's really a story about families. As with Me Before You, it starts with a rich, successful businessman and his life-changing problem - computer whizz-kid Ed is accused of insider trading and banished from his joint directorship while the case is investigated. A million miles away on a council estate, Jess is struggling with two jobs, two children and no child maintenance from her estranged husband. Working in a pub and running her own cleaning business, one of her customers one day rudely shuts a door in her face, having a bad day of his own.
It's a pure romantic-movie shuffle that get these two main characters into the same scene. And then another. It's the kind of story where you WANT certain things to happen, and the characters are well-enough written for you to feel you know who they are, you understand them, you want things to turn out well for them.
This applies to the other two main characters - just as important to the story are the children. Teenage Nicky is everything a typical teenager often is - withdrawn, sullen, introspective. Favouring gothic make-up, he becomes a target for a vicious local family. Younger Tanzie is also struggling in her surroundings, having an affinity for mathematics but no way of climbing out of the local school system in which Jess knows she'll also become a victim. Nicky's growth in particular through the book is one of the most enjoyable facets of the story. Tanzie adds a lot of the humour and heart to the story. As does the drooling, shedding and rather flatulent dog mountain, Norman.
And the story turns on Tanzie - a maths competition in Scotland forces Jess's story away from the council estate, it could raise the money to send Tanzie to a private school where she could thrive. But how can they get there?
Jess is impossible to dislike. She's hardworking and self-sacrificing, ever-optimistic, and just trying to make ends meet and scrape together a decent life for her small family. Her relationship with Ed is believable - he's shaken into awareness of those around him by her response to his rudeness and his growing admiration for her and her children allows him to see both his own personal problem and tense family situation in a clearer light. Ed is not a perfect hero, but with flaws and tics (wearing identical clothes every day to avoid the effort of planning an outfit) he's also hard to dislike.
We have a family drama, a road movie, a tentative romance, all bound up in a car with our four characters (and of course Norman), in which each of them go on their own little journey inside the slowly northbound car. At times you don't want the road trip to end. I really came to like the four of them, could see each of them clearly as I read, and knew just what I wanted to happen.
And at the end (no spoilers), I was pleased with how Moyes chose to bring the strands together and settle the story. Realistic and without sappiness.
If you're a fan already of Moyes, you'll continue to be pleased. If you've never tried her, I can recommend this if you are looking for something that isn't a difficult read, treads a well-worn path with style and humour, and entertains with a touching little family love story.
Review of a Netgalley advance copy.
Jojo Moyes' words are bullets, and she shoots them straight into your heart.
One Plus One is an absolutely exhilarating novel. Equal parts moving, heartbreaking, hopeful and hilarious, it's a smart and memorable story about one untypical family and their journey to happiness. A journey that includes a painfully slow road-trip to Scotland in a car with a rude boss, two kids and one huge, smelly dog.
Two people. Two completely different worlds. What do they add up to?
Jess' life is as far from easy and privileged as you can imagine. Her husband, depressed because of his steady stream of bad decisions resulting in a complete financial fiasco, went away to spend a couple weeks at his mom's. That was two years ago. With two kids to provide for - one not even her own - and a whole load of other problems (including, but not limited to, bully neighbors, rude employers, and constant lack of money), Jess works her ars off at two jobs. She's one tough gal, she never gives up, always bounces back, no matter what obstacles land in her path. But even this short and feisty Erin Bronkovitch-like woman is not unbeatable. She can't always "sort things out", though God knows she tries her best.
Ed is a disaster of a whole different kind, and kind of of his on making. He's not exactly filthy rich, though he's definitely on the other end of the spectrum from Jess. His job is hugely profitable, he works alongside his best friend, his high-end home is regularly cleaned - and guess who is the cleaner? - and the only thing that he seems to be missing in his life, is love. Due to an unfortunate affair, he finds himself in a lot of trouble. Legal trouble. Very serious, potentially life-devastating trouble.
When Jess' daughter, Tanzie (the math genius), is presented with an opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious schools in London, Jess is willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen for her. It's a chance they can't afford to miss, even tho they literally can't afford the tuition. The ray of hope materializes itself in the form of a math competition, winning which would leave them with a sum of money big enough to make Tanzie's dream of attending a good school in a safe neighborhood come true. Easy enough? Sure, if only the competition wasn't held all the way up in Scotland and you didn't have to drive at an excruciatingly slow pace to get there. In your boss's car.
One Plus One is delightfully charming, unexpectedly romantic and painfully honest. Full of touching scenes, brilliant thoughts and moments of true heartbreak, it's a book as far from mediocre as they come. Easily the most thoughtful and relevant book I've read this year. It's not just a chick lit romance. It's an inspiring and heart-warming family drama. Through her breathtakingly compelling prose and beautifully fleshed out, real characters, Moyes explores some tough subjects, such as bullying, social injustice, poverty, dysfunctional families, solo parenting and all the challenges that come with it, and more. Way, way more.
I cried, I laughed, I sobbed, I got angry.. I fell in love with these people and their story. This book was a journey - full of love, hope, second chances and wisdom - and I am sure I'd be re-taking this journey time and time again.
An absolutely phenomenal reading experience.
on 29 April 2014
This is the story of the Thomas family, an average sort of family who are on the verge of crises.Jess is a single mum to Nicky and Tanzie. Nicky is a teenage Goth who just doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The Fishers, the local bad family, make his life hell.Tanzie is an eleven year old Maths genius. Tanzie is so good at Maths that she has been offered a scholarship to the local private school.Ed is a young, handsome IT geek who has been accused of insider trading. Jess encounters Ed Nicholls first in her guise as a cleaner, and then in her role as a barmaid at the local pub. Jess has to work two jobs as she is struggling to make ends meet.Jess needs to get to Aberdeen so that Tanzie can win the Maths Olympiad to enable Jess to make up the remainder of Tanzie’s scholarship.Thus begins an extraordinary journey for the Thomas family, Ed and Norman the smelly family dog.Jo Jo Moyes is the queen of the higher end of the chick lit market along with Marian Keyes and Jane Green. This is another fantastic offering, which is compulsive reading. It is simultaneously heart breaking and funny. I loved “Me Before You”, but was a little disappointed by “The Girl You Left Behind”. I think that Moyes is definitely back on form with “The One Plus One”.The book isn’t fluffy or sugary. It is a hard hitting read about a family in trouble. Jess Thomas is only just managing financially and emotionally, and it doesn’t take very much for her to go under. Moyes writes well – her characters are beautifully formed and very believable. I really wanted things for Jess to work out well and the long journey in the literal and emotional sense is well worth reading.Real Readers provided me with a proof copy of this novel.
on 4 April 2014
We open up the tale with Jess & Nathalie, Jess is our main character, well one of them, and Nathalie as they go about their job, cleaning. They are chatting and giving the reader an insight into Jess's life. The next few chapters bring in Tanzie, Ed and Nicky, each chapter has a name underneath the chapter so you know which person it is coming from or focusing on. The view point alternates between first and third person, this is done with ease though and actually adds to the joy of the story.
Jess is struggling to make ends meet, her husband is trying to sort himself out at his mothers whilst Jess keeps the home, finance and kids going. Working herself to the bone with two jobs, lack of time with the kids and money worries she still manages to maintain a positive outlook. When she gets an opportunity for her daughter Tanzie, to better her life, she will do anything she can to make it work.
Ed is our other big character, he has money, homes, cars and everything a geek could ask for. When his life and routine come to a halt whilst he is investigated and everything he knows is at risk, he meets someone in their hour of need. What follows is a journey that will highlight strengths and weaknesses in each of them and force them to question their chosen paths in life.
Oh.My.God I love this book! I thought after Me Before You I wouldn't be able to 5 star another book by this author as it was their peak book. I was wrong, although this is a totally different kind of book it stirred up a lot of the same responses as Me Before You. Gasping out loud (always a tad mortified when this happens, especially if people are around), smiling, laughter and tears, everything a great book should do. The ARC I got is 436 pages, I devoured it in 6 hours and it would have been quicker but I had to do some things to do in between. I was loath to put it down, I couldn't wait to find out where it was going, what else would come to light and how it played out for the characters. When I read the first few chapters, I wasn't convinced I was going to love it as I thought there might be too many characters. There are 4 centered ones, Ed & Jess are your big characters and Nicky and Tanzie feature heavily too, as well as their daft dog Norman, but as I said, the chapters are titled with their names and it is really easy to follow.
I didn't want it to end, I loved the characters and think there is someone for everyone to relate to. If not someone personally then at least one of the situations. The book covers a host of issues, single mum struggling to make ends meet, misfit kids, the misconception and judgments people make on each other, betrayal, honesty, love and loyalty to name but a few.
I will continue to buy up this authors works and this is a keeper for me! 5/5
on 17 March 2014
Single mother Jess is struggling to keep her family afloat. Her ex Marty moved away two years ago, leaving Jess with their daughter, Tanzie and Jess's stepson, Nicky. Marty neglects to support his family financially or emotionally and Jess is forced to take on multiple jobs to try to make ends meet.
Nicky doesn't feel like he fits in anywhere. His mother abandoned him when he was eight years old and his father moved away too, with their relationship now conducted through weekly Skype chats.
Tanzie is a young maths genius. Her teacher thinks she could go far and has helped secure her a scholarship at a local private school that has excellent results. The only problem is, the scholarship will only fund part of the fees and Jess can't see a way that she will be able to raise the rest of the money.
And then Jess meets Ed Nicholls, a man who wants to help her family. But Ed has problems of his own with a court case looming and a sick father he can't seem to face.
The One Plus One is the first JoJo Moyes book that I've read so, while I've heard many great things about the author, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I discovered was a wonderful rollercoaster of a read. My emotions were all over the place, with laugh out loud moments one minute and raw emotionally charged moments the next. I felt like I went on a real journey with each of the characters and couldn't wait to see what happened next in their lives.
I don't think I could pick out a favourite character from the book as I thought they were all brilliant, including the big drooling mass that was Norman the dog, but the children, Nicky and Tanzie, will probably stay with me for a long time. When Nicky came to live with Jess, he was quite a damaged boy, though he wouldn't admit it, and his life is pretty tough, first with his father leaving and then being subjected to horrific bullying from the local thugs, The Fishers. I felt for the whole family as the bullying continued, with both Nicky and Tanzie being afraid to leave the house and Jess feeling powerless to protect them. Tanzie is a wonderfully quirky character and I loved her observations.
I absolutely loved The One Plus One. It's jam packed with humour but it is ultimately the tale of a broken family struggling to piece itself back together. I can definitely see this book being in my top ten at the end of the year.
on 17 March 2014
Jess is a single mum struggling to make ends meet for herself, two children and their dog. She lives in a council flat in a poor neighbourhood, she works two jobs and makes her daughter's clothes in an attempt to save money. But despite her best efforts her credit cards are always stretched to the limit and the money worries never leave her mind. So when her daughter, a maths prodigy, is offered a place at a prestigious school that can change the young girl's life and give her better prospects for the future, Jess has yet another thing to worry about. Because while they are offered a ninety per cent scholarship, the most generous one ever given, the remaining ten per cent is still well out of her budget. How can she give her daughter the opportunity the girl so desperately wants and deserves?
Ed is great with computers and he and his best friend Ronan have made a lot of money with the company they set up together. But they are not very good with financials, so they let other people run that side of the business while they still hold a large portion of the shares as the company's founders. Despite several failed relationships things seem pretty great for Ed as he loves his work and the routine it gives him, but when he's accused of insider trading and faces jail time, the world as he knows it falls apart.
Opposed to Jojo Moyes' previous novels I've read I didn't feel an instant connection with this story and the characters. Whereas Me Before You was an emotional rollercoaster and The Girl You Left Behind was that as well as immensely intriguing, The One Plus One was more subtle. At first it read like a formulaic romance novel, as I expected that the poor woman trying to support two children while barely making ends meet would be swooped up and saved by the rich and handsome computer whiz, but of course it wasn't quite a straight forward as that.
First of all, the characters are far more interesting than may initially seem the case. Both Jess and Ed have a lot of depth and their stories are layered, stretching much further than "single mum" and "computer geek". Jess' two children Nicky and Tanzie also take a prominent role within the novel and both have their own unique and very important stories to tell. Nicky's struggles in particular are a very real problem for teenagers in this day and age, and it was heart-breaking to see it all unfold and escalate.
The story itself while slightly slow at the start, as mentioned before, takes the reader by surprise in terms of intrigue and before I knew it the book had become so gripping it was absolutely impossible to put down. In fact, despite its fairly vast size I ended up finishing it in a single day (far too late at night too as reading this novel was definitely preferable to going to sleep).
At times the journey within the pages was reminiscent of the quirkiness of Little Miss Sunshine and other road trip adventures, but while there were funny moments to enjoy for sure, for the most part this was a powerful and heartfelt piece of writing rather than a comedy. It touched upon real problems faced by people just like you and me on an every day basis. Moyes writes about it with a lot of heart and optimism, the latter embodied by the cheerfulness and honesty of the character of Jess who remained a hopeful voice for the majority of the book despite the adversaries she was facing.
Ever since Moyes broke my heart with her astonishing novel The Girl You Left Behind I've been mesmerised by her storytelling abilities. With The One Plus One she once again proves she has that magic touch which can turn a concept that could've been ordinary or dull into something extraordinary and thought-provoking. With inspirational characters and a powerful story she tugs at the reader's heartstrings (the beautiful kindness of strangers as shown within this novel was a particularly moving moment for me) and makes them think about her words and the message underneath long after turning the final page.
I've been a fan of Jojo Moyes since I read Me Before You which is probably one of my favourite reads and certainly one of the most memorable. In The One Plus One the central character is Jess, a fiercely independent single mother who is hard-working, struggling to make ends meet and bring up her daughter Tanzie, a budding maths genius and ex-husbands son Nicky whose Goth style of dress makes him a regular target of the local bully boys, The Fishers. By day Jess works as a cleaner and one of her clients is Ed Nicholls a well-off Software Geek who at first glance appears to have it all. Sadly that's not quite the case and a stupid mistake has put his business and lifestyle in jeopardy.
A once in a lifetime opportunity for Jess to get Tanzie into a private school on a scholarship leads to a road trip from one end of the country to the other and brings these characters together. Told from the perspective of the different characters, this book loses nothing in the transition and flows smoothly
I'd hesitate to categorise this book as chic lit or romance as it's so much more than that, in the heart of the storyline is a family that has really been served a hard dose of life, been taken advantage of and every time they're down they pick themselves back up again and again. If you've ever struggled to pay the bills, not wanting your kids to go without then this book will hit a nerve with you. The characters are so easy to fall in love with (special mention to Tanzies' great lump of a dog Norman who melted my heart) and as a reader I found myself really rooting for them, avidly turning the pages wanting to know what happened next. This book made me laugh and cry...an absolute winner!
At first glance the characters don't seem to be inspiring. Jessica Thomas was pregnant at seventeen and is a low income single parent mum with multiple jobs; her Goth / Emo "son" Nicky is the offspring of her waster ex-husband and his drug addict ex, and her ten year old daughter Tanzie - Constanza - is a maths prodigy who is destined to go to the same secondary school where Nicky is bullied for being a geek. One of Jessica's jobs is cleaning and this is where the love interest - Ed - is introduced. Ed is a successful software developer who is divorced. His parents sent him to an independent school but that didn't have enough money to send his sister Gemma, who later becomes a social worker. Ed's father is seriously ill but Ed rarely makes the journey to see him. It sounds like a scenario for a Ken Loach film, but hang on, as Jessica says; "good things happen". It centres around a scholarship offer to Tanzie from a local independent school and the problems in funding the shortfall in the fees. A possible source of funding is a maths Olympiad in Aberdeen.
The characters, particularly Jessica, seem drawn from life as though JoJo Moyes knew someone well who had been through the endless juggling to make ends meet. If you're a parent with year 6 primary children you may know of national maths contests and, hoping for a scholarship to a good independent school.
Well written, nicely paced and for me, resonances with real life.
on 1 June 2015
I bought this as I am a JoJo fan having read many of her other books. If her name had not been on this book I would never have believed it was written by her. It's complete tosh. I realise that is harsh but the only reason I gave it two stars was because I didn't want to be too unkind. The story is nonsense. It's full of holes and frustrations where you find yourself screaming 'that would never happen'. The frustration in the plot (and the use of the word plot is questionable), is that you know that it would not be like that. In the end I just became irritated that the author would treat her readers like this. Oh also there is not one of the characters that I liked or even felt for. I struggled to believe that they would ever exist and come together in anyone's world. I have probably wasted my time writing this as there are so many five star reviews that they will end up higher in the listing but this is truly my honest opinion and I am a disappointed reader. I expected the best and think I got the worst of JoJo.