Sunday 29 January 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Me Before You

Friendly, funny, 26-year-old Louisa Clark, who still lives with her parents and serves tea at the Buttered Bun Cafe, loses her job and is forced to take a six month contract as a carer. It is clear from the moment she meets handsome, intelligent 35-year-old Will Traynor, an ex-city high flyer and action man who is now a quadriplegic, that her initial awkwardness and his resentful disdain will eventually melt into full-blown My Fair Carer.
The stakes are upped when Lou discovers that Will has set his mind on ending his life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. Unbeknownst to him, her secret knowledge charts her on a mission to improve his life with experiences which will enrich it and ultimately change his mind.
The irony is that she is successful in changing his life simply by being in it. Their witty banter and details about her fairly small life become intriguing to Will. He coerces and cajoles her into watching foreign films and borrowing his books. He forces her into thoughtful and thought-provoking debates on issues of the day. It’s Educating Rita with a twist and of course, as the pupil falls in love with learning so the teacher falls in love with the pupil. It is he who changes her life by opening her mind to new ways of thinking about herself and the world, and how to live.
Perhaps because it is a little obvious, I found the first half of this book, and Louisa’s chirpy and unwitting first person narrative slightly grating. However, as the inevitable does happen and they become close with a love that transcends the norm and is the sweeter and more intense for it, and the novel arcs towards its heart-wrenching climax, it becomes more compelling and consuming, until you are left tear sodden.
It is, as the author points out, a romance, and in many ways it is very traditionally so. Although this is not my genre of choice, the way that JoJo Moyes uses the conventions to tackle the subjects of disability, quality of life and assisted suicide are inventive and effective. As she herself points out in the notes, it was not a story she was able to sell to publishers. The fact that she wrote it anyway, and ended up with a bestseller, is all credit to her. 


  1. Just thought you might like to know Sara cox is reading this book at the moment . She told me over 'coffee' shes says its come highly recommended!!!!

  2. Wow Anna, I'm impressed! Thanks for letting me know xxx

  3. Oh yeah for 'over coffee' read 'on twitter'