After You – Jojo Moyes

I did it. I read the sequel to Me Before You.

I didn’t really want to, because I felt the first novel was complete in and of itself. But obviously, curiosity got the better of me.

We get reacquainted with Louisa Clark a few years after Will Traynor (aka. paraplegic love of her life) is euthanised. She’s travelled, she’s bought herself a flat, and she’s now working at an Irish themed airport bar. Not ideal. She’s not very happy. It hasn’t been the happy, promising future that we expected upon reading the end of Me Before You when Will left her some money and a note telling her to follow her dreams.

Things are complicated further when Lou falls off the roof of her building, injuring herself substantially so she can’t work for a few weeks. Thankfully, this does allow her to rebuild her relationship with her family, which has been on the rocks since she helped a man kill himself (humanely, as he wished – but still in some eyes an assisted suicide).

So Louisa is on speaking terms with her parents again when a teenage girl rocks up claiming to be Will’s daughter. Plot twist. Turns out Will never knew he impregnated a girl back in university, but Lily knows he was her dad.

Lou helps Lily meet her grandparents and even lets her live with her – but Lily is a handful, to say the least. She smokes, drinks, takes drugs and goes out clubbing. She disappears for days at a time and no one knows where she is. This is something Lily’s mother is accustomed to and refuses to deal with. So Lou is left to be the only person who cares about Will’s daughter’s wellbeing (she feels she owes it to him).

Oh, and the also a side romance going on with Lou and the paramedic who saved her life after her accident. Sam is an attractive, impressive man who makes Lous feel the feels for the first time since Will. But she doesn’t want to commit. It’s awkward for everyone.

Lily, Sam, a job that sucks, an offer to work in New York, parents arguing over feminine values – Lou’s life is chaos.

But basically stuff sorts itself out somehow! Lou decides she’s keen to make it work with Sam. Lily decides to live with her grandmother (Will’s mother) and Lous accepts the job in New York. Essentially the book ends just like the last one did: Lou heading off on an adventure with unresolved pieces of her life still kinda loitering about. We’re set up for a third book.

What I will say is this is easy to read, very smooth and simple. Bordering on predictable, but still very entertaining. It made me laugh out loud at times. Moyes is witty and her writing is great. Here are a few examples of passages I loved:

There was a peculiar scent to grief. It smelt of damp, imperfectly ventilated church halls and poor-quality teabags. It smelt of meals for one and stale cigarettes, smoked hunched against the cold. It smelt of spritzed hair and armpits, little practical victories against a morass of despair.

What an amazingly vivid and real description of something that’s difficult to describe. I’ve never lost someone very close to me, yet I can imagine the horrid, dark feeling it would bring. And how you’d need those ‘practical victories’.

If he had been anybody else I might have hugged him just then, but we were English and he had once been my boss of sorts, so we simply smiled awkwardly at each other. And possibly wished we were somewhere else.

Ha! This really amused me. Because, again, I can imagine the scenario and I just appreciate that someone has written it down. Moyes writes in a very obviously British way and I love it.

I didn’t tell her about the days when it felt like a peculiar form of torture to work somewhere where I was forced to watch each plane on the runway, gather its energy like a great bird, then launch itself into the sky.

This excerpt delighted me because of the imagery, and how it perfectly sums up Lou’s desire to be free and adventurous, yet is forced to watch other people travel and explore the world while she’s trapped.

In conclusion, a great read.

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