If you are debating with yourself whether you should read Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, I suggest that you ask yourself, first, are you feeling:
- in love?
- a little bit lonely?
- a deep-seeded sense of lack of meaning in the world?
- a longingness for something you can’t quite put your finger on?
- minorly afraid of the inevitability of the options before you and a desire for the safety of maintaining sameness?
- a desire to sink deeply into the soft corner of a couch under a heavy warm blanket with a cup of tea?
If you answered yes to any of the above, I beg you, immediately, leave your devil screen device and immediately delve in to this absolute delight of a novel. I was recommended this book on the advice of my mum’s book club (<3), and read it in the old-fashioned form of a large-print library book, which honestly contributed deeply to the whole experience and I’d actually encourage you to do the same.
But nevertheless. This book was one of those true, desperately heart-breaking, deeply fulfilling experiences with insufficient words to capture the world of emotion you’re engulfed in as you turn the pages.
The story is simple. You open to flashy, career-success Will, living in his larger-than-life world. You’re then quickly catapulted two years into the future, through the lens of the small, safe, stifled world of Louisa Clark. Louisa finds herself in the employ of a now-quadriplegic Will, as part-carer part-companion. Louisa accidentally and covertly discovers the real motivation behind her role, and makes it her mission to bring colour and light to Will’s shuttered day-to-day. You fall desperately in love with Louisa, and more desperately in love with Louisa and Will as each second passes. You journey through the process of facing your reality, and acknowledging that you should be, and you are, empowered to dictate your destiny – in all the various, frightening, fabulous forms that may take.
On occasion you’re provided a different insight from the key ensemble of characters to the lives of Lou and Will, which creates a slightly richer picture of the complex relationship that Lou and Will have with each other, their families and themselves. And, the ending. I desperately don’t want to take away your experience of following Lou and Will’s journey for the first time, but through the last 50 pages I underwent every emotion there was – and couldn’t have been happier I had foregone Friday night drinks to spend the evening with these characters.
My only small – not even complaint, but not wholly positive comment, is that the issues this book addresses are perhaps a little old-fashioned now, and the political take is, from my perspective anyway, outdated. Maybe that is more a reflection on my lack of recognition of different moral, ethical and emotional approaches to mine. But all I would say is prepare to suspend your position on euthanasia, whatever it may be, to properly absorb yourself into this absolutely gorgeous story.
But in the end, if you are a fan of, or simply in the mood for, a really cathartic cry and the feeling that the world runs on poetic justice, then pick this book up and dive in.
Like all adorable stories, this book has been adapted to film, and is due out in Australian cinemas on 3 June 2016. I stress that you should read the book first. But then, watch the trailer here. Sam Claflin is adorable, and Emilia Clark is an absolute delight. And be waiting like I am to pre-book your tickets for opening night. I’m heavily biased against viewing a film first, because I believe it robs you of the magic of reading, but that certainly should never stop you from watching the film after you’ve read the story, especially when exceptionally handsome actors are involved.
So, all up, I award this book a resounding 10/10. Thankfully there is a sequel, Me After You, but I’m extremely reluctant to dive in because sequels can severely let you down and I want nothing to spoil the simple magic of Me Before You. But my resilience will likely cave tonight when I’m hunting around for something to read, and will probably indulge in the gateway drug of one-click on my Kindle. Poor Amex.
Have you read Me Before You? What did you think?