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.
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 22 October 2014
This is the position I adopted last Sunday when I started and finished The One Plus One by JoJo Moyes. I met JoJo (I know, shameless name dropping) at the Henley Literary Festival (see here), she came across as extremely passionate about her writing and when she spoke about this book, it made me want to read it at once.
Jess is a breadline single mother to a misunderstood teenager and a maths genius. When Tanzie (the genius) gets the chance to go to a private school and fulfil her potential, Jess needs to find £2000 to pay the fees which the scholarship won't cover. There's a maths olympiad in Aberdeen whose prize will more than cover the fees, so all Jess needs to do is get there.
Ed started his own software company with his best mate from University, he's well off owning a summer home in Jess's home town on the south coast. But things start to go wrong, he's facing criminal charges and his company is taken away from him. A string of bizarre coincides lead him to give Jess and her family a lift to Aberdeen, a journey which changes everyone's lives.
I was really interested in the concept of this novel, an enclosed car journey with near total strangers made even more unbearable by a flatulent dog. The situations are hilarious and made me laugh out loud at points, the characters are really likeable and the plot (and sub-plot) has twists and turns to keep you guessing.
This is an easy read, but it's not your typical chick-lit. How all the endings get sewn up isn't obvious (one made me gasp with disbelief) and all the characters have flaws, no perfectly coiffed hair and yummy-mummy outfits here.
My favourite minor character was Des, the landlord of The Feathers:
Des, the landlord, has never been seen in anything but faded tour t-shirts, jeans and if it was cold, a blouson leather jacket. On a quiet night, if you were unlucky, he would detail the merits of a Fender Stratocaster against a Rickenbacker 330 or recite with a poet's reverence all the words to 'Money For Nothing'.
This takes me right back to my childhood (in a good way), my Dad played Dire Straits non-stop and I'm sure he had a blouson leather jacket too :-)
I have one criticism of this novel, is it believable that Ed gives Jess a lift to Aberdeen? I kept questioning this during the road trip and I'm not sure it is, I leave you to make your own mind up on that one. But if you can suspend your disbelief, I'm sure you'll enjoy this as much as I did.
This is my first JoJo novel and I will definitely be reading more.
on 6 April 2016
I love JoJo Moyes. I have done since a friend of mine, knowing I loved all things love, recommended ‘The Last Letter from Your Lover’ to me, which I read and adored and promptly ordered all of the rest of her books off Amazon. I still have two left on my to read shelf, because it’s comforting to know there’s a few there for when I ‘need’ a JoJo Moyes book.
‘The One Plus One’ is Moyes’ is the story of a girl who loves maths, a boy who loves mascara and their mum who is just trying to hold it all together.
Taking place mostly in the space of a few days, it is simply and endearingly human with issues of bullies, self-confidence, finance troubles and trying to find your feet, cold and bruised they might be.
The characters, the aforementioned Tanzie, Nicky and Jess, plus Ed, a guy fallen hard on his luck, are extremely relatable and at times you just want to climb inside the pages and hug every one of them. This book made me smile and cry and feel all of the emotions.
Ultimately, it is a book about finding your place in the world, even if it is a bit skewed, and about optimism. It’s maths after all, aren’t the odds that we all deserve a break in the world eventually? Speaking of numbers *****
on 23 March 2014
I was really looking forward to reading this latest Jojo Moyes book but for me, it didn't compare with her previous books at all. Maybe I was expecting too much after the wondeful Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind but it was all a bit flat and predictable. Sorry, Jojo!
Reading a Jojo Moyes book is like inviting a friend round and curling up together under a fleecy blanket. It's going to be comfortable and easy to be around with no big surprises. Even the font size is quite large which makes the reading experience even easier.
This authors strength, in her previous books, is her characters and there is no change in this book. They all have specific roles in the plot and they are all easy to work out within a few lines of being introduced. It's fair to say that they are all exaggerated for the sake of fictional interest but they are all vaguely plausible (just!!).
I struggled with the length of the book as I started to get bored with the journey. It did feel that they would never get to the end and the timing were completely off, even taking into consideration the 40 mph travelling.
It was an OK read but I thought the book could have benefited from a vigorous edit.
The end was, unsurprisingly, predictable but I did like that a little suspense was created
on 5 July 2016
I've read and enjoyed most of Jojo Moyes' books and was pleased to get this one from my local library. By the time I was halfway through I didn't want to give it back! In fact I enjoyed it so much I bought a copy so I can read it again after a few months.
As always, Moyes has created a cast of plausible and endearing characters. They're not perfect; they have weaknesses and make mistakes, there are consequences to their mistakes and they suffer as a result, besides also suffering due to chance events or the unkindness of others. But please don't think this is a depressing book - it's quite the opposite. I found it uplifting and optimistic. I really engaged with the characters and was desperate for things to work out well for them. It isn't schmaltzy, it doesn't give any overly-simplistic answers or solutions. It made me grin; it made me chuckle out loud; and it made me weep. My Mum read it after me and also loved it. I honestly can't remember being so gripped by the characters in a novel - I would t hesitate to recommend it.
on 26 April 2015
Having just finished ''Me before you' and previously read 'Last Letter to your lover' I have decided I love Jojo Moyes. I bought the book based on the reviews being brilliant and honestly, I don't get it. I found the book really dull and the story line just really pointless. It's basically just the characters spending time in the worlds longest car journey after being delt a really rough hand and going to the maths quiz blah blah blah.. It just seemed to really go on. I was really disappointed. It did however, break my heart when Norman got ran over and I was really pleased she brought him back into the book rather than him being dead. That's the best thing I can say about the book.
on 3 April 2015
Initially, I didn’t take to this story. I don’t think that this is a fault of Jojo Moyes; I blame the fact that I didn’t enjoy the book I finished directly prior to reading The One Plus One. I picked it up far too quickly and didn’t give myself time to shake off the other story. However, once I fully immersed myself in to The One Plus One I saw just how amazingly beautiful a story it really.
The story was so multifaceted. It was about a mother’s love, about desperation, about the beginning of romance and about being different to name just a few the layers. I think the one that resonated for me is the story of sacrifice. Our protagonist, Jess sacrifices everything for her children – I found this quite strange because I, myself, do not have children yet I could feel how desperately she wanted both Tanzie and Nicky to have the best things in life and if that meant working a ridiculous number of hours or sacrificing things for herself then so be it. She is a protagonist to be proud of.
The love story was beautifully played out; Ed and Jess both had misconceptions about each other and they slowly learnt that the other wasn’t a complete waste of space. It took time to grow but their friendship developed in such a lovely and heart warming way. What added sincerity to the equation was that they both had massive flaws; both characters came alive off the page.
Having read a fair few books by Jojo Moyes, I can honestly say that The One Plus One did not disappoint.
The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes is available now.
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