Tag Archives: Jojo Moyes

After You (Me Before You #2)

After Youby Jojo Moyes

After You is the long-awaited sequel to Me Before You, a wonderfully touching and romantic book that left many of its readers wanting more. So, that is what Jojo has done – come up with the “what happens next” that so many fans wanted.

But as if often said, be careful what you wish for. Reading other reviews it would seem that for many fans, what they wished for and what they got were not the same thing. Personally, I would have been happy leaving Louisa’s story as it was at the end of the first book. But having said that, unlike some others, I actually enjoyed reading about Louisa’s further exploits. 

Anyone reading this review without having read Me Before You should stop right now and go out and get a copy. 

For me, After You is necessarily very different from Me Before You. For one thing, Louisa needed to move on. She needed to rebuild her life in some way, to find resolution. 

The book begins a year after Will Traynor’s death with Louisa working at a London Airport bar. She has bought a flat with the money left her by Will, but has not followed his advice to continue her studies. Whilst she tries to put the events if the past behind her, events conspire to bring it all crashing back down around her. 

Jojo Moyes is an imaginative storyteller who has created an inspiring collection of characters. The story is both intense and witty. Louisa’s relationship with her family and the interplay between the two sisters and their parents provides much of the books humour. Whilst I wouldn’t say that Jojo Moyes is a writer of comic fiction, she does provide a layer of wit and humour that prevent even the most serious of plots becoming too intense.

I think that to compare the two part of this story doesn’t do either full justice. Each has a separate direction and I enjoyed them both for what they were. 

Me Before You

Me Before Youby Jojo Moyes

Me Before You is not a romance, it is a lover story as intense and compelling as any I have read before. 

Lou Clark and Will Traynor are the unlikely couple at the centre of this tale. Will is a former high flyer from the City. He has travelled the world, enjoyed extreme sports and love more than his fair share of women. But following a tragic motorcycle accident, his life has changed dramatically and it is not a life he wants to continue living.

Lou Clark, on the other hand, has hardly every travelled beyond the confines of her home town, has a long-term boyfriend and has just lost her job at the local tea shop. 

When the two are brought together, it looks as if the clash of their very different personalities can only mean disaster. But no, whilst there is plenty of friction between the two characters, the sparks that fly ignite a flame that neither could have anticipated.

Whilst this may sound like a typical bit of romantic fiction, it is not. Jojo Moyes doesn’t write that kind of fiction. Through Will the reader is forced to face the question of assisted suicide. For him, the life he faces as a quadriplegic is an anathema, it is the very opposite of everything he wants for himself, and the prospect of a life of pain, sickness and dependence is too much. For Lou, life is precious and she will do anything she can to make Will change his mind. She has just six months to convince Will that he does have things to live for before he makes his one-way trip to Dignitas.

The subject is handled with real care and respect. I cannot tell from the writing which side of the argument she herself supports. I enjoyed the love story that runs through the book, but was also moved by the tragic tale of a man facing his own morality. 

Jojo Moyes has a relaxed but engaging style that pulls the reader in from the very first page and doesn’t let go until she has wrung all the emotion out of you. As I said at the beginning, this book is much more than romantic fiction. I was transfixed by the characters and their stories. The way that Lou’s relationships with her boyfriend and family develop as she begins to discover new depths in her own character as heartwarming. 

A really good book that will keep you hooked to the very end. 

The Girl You Left Behind

by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left BehindI was offered this book by my daughter who thought the subject might interest me. Although I was a little sceptical at first I very soon found myself drawn into the lives of two very similar women living a hundred years apart.
 
Sophie and Liv are linked by a painting called The Girl You Left Behind. It is a portrait of Sophie by her husband Eduard who is away fighting in the trenches of 1917 France. It is all that she has of Eduard as she struggles to protect her family during the German occupation of Northern France.
 
For both women, the painting is not just a link to the men they have lost, it has become a symbol of their relationships. Neither is willing to let go of either.
 
The book jumps between the two women’s stories, mixing first and third person help separate the two narratives.
Sophie’s story is particularly compelling and very tragic. Told from her perspective it gives a great insight into the frequently overlooked. Through Sophie we learn a lot the horrors of the trenches, but behind the lines people tried to continue their daily lives as best they could. Food and resources were scarce and Sophie must do all she can to protect what is left of her family.
 
Liv on the other hand is a widow who lives in contemporary London. The Girl You Left Behind hangs in her flat as a reminder of her late husband, a gift from their honeymoon.
 
Despite the differences in time and place, both women have to face great tragedy and loss. And for both of them, Sophie’s portrait has become a symbol of hope and love. And in both cases the introduction of a stranger into their lives forces them to make a difficult decision and tests their inner strength.
 
It is a gripping and emotional story. I found myself conflicted. On one hand I couldn’t put the book down and wanted desperately to get to the conclusion; on the other hand I didn’t want the story to end.
 
The way in which the two storylines are woven together is imaginative, keeping a thread that is easy to follow. I found both women to be strong characters and loved the way they are prepared to fight for the things that matter to them.
 
Sophie’s tale is the more intriguing of the two, mainly because it’s setting in a place and time I know little about. But it is Liv’s story that brings it all together. The ending is not what I expected but on reflection, is the only way it could have worked.
 
A really good read and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. It kept me hooked from the very beginning.