Book Review: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

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So, our book club has been plodding along with just three members – it’s not so much a book club now, more an excuse to chat about books and find time to meet up for a good gossip.

I’d mentioned Me Before You a couple of times when my friend had asked for reading suggestions as I’d heard it was good – I bought it for her for Christmas and she suggested it as our next book club read. I downloaded the audio version of the book – all 16 and a half hours of it. Needless to say, both of my friends finished the book long before I managed to!

From the back:

‘Lou Clark knows a lot of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.’

I really enjoyed listening to it, the story was good, the characters believable and down-to-earth. It has a good story and deals with some difficult issues – would you want to keep living if you knew you would never be able to walk again, or even lift a cup to drink, make love, dance? This is the plight of Will Traynor, previously a hot shot investor, who now faces life as a quadriplegic. And how do you find the courage to be sure that your life is not enough? To tell a partner that you might not love them anymore? Lou is laid off from her job at the tea shop and has to face the job centre, their suggestions of retraining, working in a chicken factory, and even (I found this a bit far-fetched) as a pole dancer!

Lou eventually takes a job as Will’s companion, asked by his mother to try and cheer him up a bit without knowing quite the magnitude of the task she is taking on. She is also battling with problems at home – at 26, she still lives with her parents in a small house with her sister, nephew and granddad who needs lots of care following a stroke. There isn’t much money to spare in the Clark household so there is an immediate clash between Lou’s life and the type of life Will had been accustomed to, coming from a very wealthy family who take regular skiing trips, go to fancy dos and have thousands of pounds idling in their everyday bank accounts.

To begin with, Will is slightly cold towards Lou, uncomfortable dealing with someone having to help him all of the time. Lou grins and bears it, trying to make the most of it as she cannot afford to lose this job. As time goes on, they grow to tolerate each other, and then their working relationship turns into friendship, as they come to rely on each other more and more.

There is lots going on in the book, but the warmth for the characters carries you through. Lou is the main narrator during the story, and although I found her narration warm and funny, and full of the everyday worries that constantly trouble us, I enjoyed the occasional break in narrative, as one of the more minor characters took over. I wished we heard more from Will though, to find out more about what is going on inside his head, how he copes mentally and emotionally with the consequences of his accident. In some ways this story is more about Lou though, and the profound effect that meeting Will and being exposed to his situation has on her.

It was a good, easy listen, but one that deals with lots of issues – it’s certainly a great book club read as it generates a lot of discussion on how one would cope with becoming quadriplegic. I’m looking forward to discussing this with the girls!

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5 Comments

Filed under Book Club, Book Reviews

5 responses to “Book Review: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

  1. Your book club sounds amazing! And the book sounds really interesting – did you think it was more enjoyable in audio form? 16h sounds a long time…

    • It’s good fun, and we’ve read some cracking books so far. I did enjoy the audiobook – I usually don’t like to listen to anything too heavy and this was perfect. The performance was good and it really held my attention (sometimes I drift off a bit with audiobooks…) I usually listen while walking to work, or while doing the dishes or generally housey things so it’s surprising how quickly 16 hours can pass!

      • Yeah I know what you mean about audiobooks; I don’t mind how dense something is when I read it from a page but last year I tried listening to a Dickens audiobook and I kept noticing that I’d stopped paying attention.

  2. Wow 16 hours seems long, how many hours do we spend reading the same book I wonder? This was my first JoJo Moyes and I really wasn’t sure what I was in for, having never read her before, but I can see she has a gift for storytelling and really getting inside a character, to the point that it almost doesn’t matter what they do, we want to follow them, it reminds me a little of watching a good TV series.

    It’s a great book for a discussion, not just in terms of what happened but the choices that the author had to make. I think keeping Will slightly at a distance contributed to the intrigue and compelling nature of the drama, because we never really knew what was going on inside his head, but turn the pages, hoping to find out, hoping to witness a miraculous transformation against the odds.

    • I think by my reading pace it would take around 8 hours – quite a difference! It really is a well-written novel and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. Look forward to reading more by Moyes in future!

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