Newest Review: ... like many of the books I read it would be a regualr light hearted read for a long and boring journey. However, this book was so mu... more
Growing Towards the Light.
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
Member Name: QueenElf
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
Advantages: Lovely story. Numerous characters, romance without pathos.
Disadvantages: Can become weepie.
***Take two different people***
The plot of this book centers on the relationship between two very different characters brought together by unusual circumstances. Louisa (Lou) Clark has lived all her life in the small town of Stortford, it's main claim to fame a castle that does bring in some tourists. Working in The Buttered Bun teashop has been her only job for 6 of her twenty-seven years but she's about to be made redundant. Without any real qualifications and little experience it's going to be hard for her to find a job and her family need her income.
Will Traynor was forced to move from London back to the family home near the castle when a motorbike accident took away his movement (he's a quadriplegic) and confined him to a wheelchair. He's always been independent and at thirty-five he feels his life is over. For two years he's managed to get along with a male aide, Nathan, but now his recovery has reached it's zenith his mother feels he needs more help around his own annex, allowing for more freedom.
This is the job that is suggested by the Job center to Lou when her few tries at other menial jobs end in disaster. She's not too keen on being a Carer, but when she is told it doesn't mean any very personal duties, she agrees to go to the interview, after all, the money offered is good and the contract is initially for six months. Her family are used to depending on her income and Lou 's sister, Katrina is desperate to take up a college place now her son Thomas is five and old enough to go in a crèche. It would appear to be a good solution but what neither expect is that Lou will bring both frustration and colour to Will's depressive life, or that Lou will come to realize there is more to life than buttered buns and her boring boyfriend, Patrick.
***A Love Story with a difference. ***
From the blurb on the book I expected a lot of the book would be about a budding romance between the two with a fairy-tale ending. Such plaudits as 'Gorgeously romantic' and 'A small-life-big-dreams weepie that'll have you sniveling ecstatically into your cocoa' suggested I might want to put my finger down my throat, but as I read on I got caught up in the story and knew that under the façade of happy-ever-after, there was a real story with characters that weren't going to act as a fairy-tale prince and princess, no matter what the story promised to deliver.
After Lou gets used to being overlooked by Will she decides that some changes might do him some good and embarks on a course of action sure to lift him out of his self-imposed exile. After all, his family has plenty of money and she was taken on to drive his adapted car. The possibility that Will doesn't want cheering up and might have a very different view of his future is something that Lou isn't going to sit back and accept, especially when she finds out something that his haughty mother Camilla has kept from her. Lou has determination on her side and before long the story starts to add humour to its poignancy.
***A Class Act***
While the story is predominately about the two main characters, the difference between the classes is evident from the start of the book and without it I don't think the story would have been such a remarkable success. Lou is a working class girl who hasn't appeared to rise beyond her basic upbringing with some of the descriptions of family a little like the Royle Family, warm-hearted people with little money who get by on dreams and family ties. Lou's family consist of her mum who is never still, her dad who is afraid he'll lose his factory job, Granddad who has suffered two strokes and is looked after by all the family. Then there's Lou's sister, Treena (Katrina) who had her son Thomas when she was two thirds of her way through a college course, now having to make do with a job at a florists. They all live in the same house and both space and money are tight.
By contrast Will's family is affluent with a large home, well-to-do parents and Will's sister Georgina who lives abroad. Will had a partnership in a London firm before his accident and never wanted for money. The difference between classes is still a very English thing and Lou is sometimes hostile because she feels looked down on. Will helps her to see her goals in life could be wider, but although you feel sorry for his condition, it's sad that he doesn't see why Lou is held back and this creates barriers.
Ultimately the class differences lead to some misunderstandings but they also bring warmth to a family who desperately want their son to live and find some form of contentment. Moyes makes it clear that this was something she used rather than use Will's illness and symptoms to show the differences between the couple. Lou is still enthusiastic and hopeful because life and her family make her that way. I wouldn't have enjoyed the story so much if Will's health were the main issue, although it does have a big part to play later on.
***Tears and Laughter***
I loved the book despite expecting to find it maudlin. Instead it became an affirmation of all that can be good in a relationship based on mutual respect and willingness to make the other happy. There are parts where you will need your hanky and not be ashamed that tears are trickling down your face. Any person who has suffered a long-term illness or accident will know that fear of infection is terrible for sufferers and what any carer dreads. Also there are times when a cheerful face cannot lift depression, though it can help to stop it getting worse.
There is laughter when Lou takes Will to a racetrack and gets his wheelchair bogged down in mud. There is pleasure when Will helps Lou realize she has strengths she didn't know about and then there are times when it seems that nothing else matters except for a quiet, gentle love that grows from such an unexpected start. These are moments of magic when the author shows why she is such a respected author.
I have no hesitation in recommending this to anyone who loves a good story written with sensitivity and a strong sense of real people and issues.
My copy is a library hardback; you can buy this on Amazon for £3.45 at present.
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Summary: A Book to savour.