Reviews for Me Before You

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
In The Last Letter from Your Lover (2011), Moyes presented a heavily plotted novel that spanned decades and featured parallel romances. Her newest work dials down the intricacy, and the result is a far more intimate novel. Moyes introduces us first to Will Traynor, a formerly high-flying, thrill-seeking executive now confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. Twentysomething Louisa "Lou" Clark has been hired as his caretaker, despite a total lack of experience. As the prickly Will and plainspoken Lou gradually warm to each other, she learns that the six-month length of her contract coincides with the amount of time Will has agreed, for his parents' sake, to postpone his planned assisted suicide, a subject Moyes treats evenhandedly. Armed with this information, Lou sets about creating adventures for Will, hoping to give him a reason to live. Simultaneously, Will encourages Lou to expand the expectations of what her life could be. All signs point to romance and a happy ending for the pair, but Moyes has something more heartbreakingly truthful in mind: Sometimes love isn't enough. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2013 January
Love in a hopeless place

Louisa Clark lives a small, simple life. At age 27, she shares a home with her quirky family, works at a local café and maintains a lackluster relationship with her beau of seven years. She may have dreamt of leaving her tiny English village once or twice, but it just doesn’t seem practical; with the recent economic downturn, Lou’s salary has kept the family afloat. And then her boss closes his café and Louisa is left adrift. Forced to take almost any job that will pay the family’s bills, Louisa agrees to serve as caretaker for a wealthy quadriplegic, despite having absolutely no training. As she quickly discovers, the job is much more—in ways both triumphant and tragic—than she bargained for.

Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You is a most unconventional love story. Lou and her charge, the handsome, privileged Will Traynor, are at first like oil and water. Will is cold and aloof with everyone, but he seems generally displeased to have Lou around. Lou comes to realize that’s because she isn’t just a caregiver—she’s a babysitter. Will was an adventure junkie with career success, complete independence and a slew of gorgeous women by his side. His injury has left him physically and emotionally devastated—and certain that he doesn’t want to live this way. But both Lou and Will have surprises in store for each other, and Moyes lets their relationship develop in wonderful, hilarious and unexpected ways. Lou simply will not let Will go down without a fight, and in her battle to save his life, she ends up changing her own.

Moyes’ twisting, turning, heartbreaking novel raises provocative moral questions while developing a truly unique relationship between two people brought together by chance. With shades of David Nicholls’ beloved One Day, Me Before You is the kind of book you simply can’t put down—even when you realize you don’t want to see it end. This may not be a novel for the faint of heart, but it is a big-hearted, beautifully written story that teaches us it is never too late to truly start living.

Read a Q&A with Jojo Moyes about Me Before You.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2013 August
New paperback releases for reading groups

Alice Munro continues to demonstrate her mastery of the short-story form in Dear Life: Stories, another collection of probing, compassionate, beautifully crafted narratives. Many of the book’s 14 pieces take place in rural Ontario, where the author grew up. All of them exhibit the quiet power and luminous prose that are Munro’s trademarks. In the World War II-era “Train,” a soldier jumps from the train that’s carrying him home, an act that sends his life in an unexpected direction. “Amundsen” features a cold-hearted doctor who romances a young teacher and then rejects her—a textbook case of seduction and abandonment that leaves a permanent mark on the woman. The book includes four closely linked pieces that are somewhat autobiographical, giving readers a fascinating glimpse into the author’s past. Munro, who recently turned 82, is still at the top of her game. As this deeply satisfying collection shows, she’s an expert when it comes to laying bare human motives and emotions.

J.K. Rowling scores again with The Casual Vacancy, her first book aimed at adult readers. Set in a fictional parish called Pagford, the novel examines the manners and morals of the town’s inhabitants. The death of kind-hearted Barry Fairbrother results in an open seat on the parish council that becomes a source of conflict in the community. Council leader Howard Mollison hopes to redistrict the Fields, Pagford’s low-income, drug-infested sector—an idea Fairbrother opposed prior to his demise. An election for the empty seat is soon slated, with Mollison’s lawyer son, Miles, vying for the position. After controversial postings attributed to Fairbrother’s ghost appear on the council’s website, tensions rise. This compelling book features a broad cast of characters—heroin users, prostitutes, well-to-do parents—and touches upon a number of social issues, including poverty and class conflict. While Rowling has proven time and again that she’s queen of the fantasy genre, she demonstrates here that she’s also a skillful practitioner of modern literary fiction.

Me Before You is a heartbreaking novel that readers won’t soon forget. Raised in a tiny English town, Louisa Clark doesn’t have big plans for the future—until she meets a quadriplegic named Will Traynor. Will, a former playboy, athlete and adrenaline junky, was hit by a motorbike and now spends his days in a wheelchair. Louisa is hired by his mother to look after him and lift his flagging spirits. Despite her patient’s abrasive, slightly mocking nature, Louisa is drawn to Will. The two develop an affection for one another, but their prospects for happiness are darkened by a plan Will is harboring for the future. Louisa’s attempts to rekindle his passion for daily experience cause her to re-evaluate her own life, and she finds herself growing in ways she never thought possible. Jojo Moyes, a skillful novelist, eschews sentimentality in this poignant tale. She writes about the couple’s relationship in a style that’s clear and unembellished. This is a singular love story that will resonate with readers and provide excellent material for book group discussions.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #1
A young woman finds herself while caring for an embittered quadriplegic in this second novel from British author Moyes (The Last Letter from Your Lover, 2011). Louisa has no apparent ambitions. At 26, she lives with her working-class family (portrayed with rollicking energy) in a small English town, carries on a ho-hum relationship with her dull boyfriend and works at a local cafe. Then, the cafe closes, and she must find a job fast to ease her family's financial stress. Enter Will Traynor, a former world traveler, ladies' man and business tycoon who's been a quadriplegic since a traffic accident two years ago. Will's magistrate mother hires Louisa at a relatively hefty salary to be Will's caregiver and keep him company for the next six months--easygoing Nathan gives him his medical care and physiotherapy--but really Will's mother wants Louisa to watch him so he doesn't try to hurt himself. Will, once handsome and powerful, is not only embittered, but in constant pain. He has some use of one hand but is dependent on others for his basic needs, and recovery is not possible. Louisa, who can't help speaking her mind and dresses thrift-store eccentric, thinks he hates her, but no surprise, Louisa's sprightly, no-nonsense charms win him over. He even cheers her up on occasion. When Louisa overhears Will's mother talking to his sister, she realizes that the Traynors have reluctantly agreed to let Will commit suicide at a facility in six months. Louisa decides to convince him to stay alive with a series of adventures. Meanwhile, Will, who senses something in her past has made Louisa fearful of adventure, is trying to broaden her experience through classical music and books. Their feelings for each other deepen. But Louisa is not Jane Eyre, and Will is not Mr. Rochester in a wheelchair, so don't expect an easy romantic ending. Despite some obviousness in the storyline, this is uplift fiction at its best, with fully drawn characters making difficult choices. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #2

In Moyes's (The Last Letter from Your Lover) disarmingly moving love story, Louisa Clark leads a routine existence: at 26, she's dully content with her job at the cafe in her small English town and with Patrick, her boyfriend of six years. But when the cafe closes, a job caring for a recently paralyzed man offers Lou better pay and, despite her lack of experience, she's hired. Lou's charge, Will Traynor, suffered a spinal cord injury when hit by a motorcycle and his raw frustration with quadriplegia makes the job almost unbearable for Lou. Will is quick-witted and sardonic, a powerhouse of a man in his former life (motorcycles; sky diving; important career in global business). While the two engage in occasional banter, Lou at first stays on only for the sake of her family, who desperately needs the money. But when she discovers that Will intends to end his own life, Lou makes it her mission to persuade him that life is still worth living. In the process of planning "adventures" like trips to the horse track--some of which illuminate Lou's own minor failings--Lou begins to understand the extent of Will's isolation; meanwhile, Will introduces Lou to ideas outside of her small existence. The end result is a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling. Agent: Sheila Crowley, Curtis Brown. (Dec.)

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