Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book 108: Me Before You

I loved Moyes's previous novel, The Last Letter from Your Lover, and though I would say that I didn't like this one as much, it was still a very pleasant read.  Me Before You is both better and not as good as The Last Letter from Your Lover.  The earlier novel had a parallel story line setup with a story set in the 50's/60's as well as one set in the modern day, and the one focused on the earlier timeframe was just amazing.  Nothing in Me Before You was as strong as that relationship or story but this novel as a whole was definitely much better than the modern day part of The Last Letter from Your Lover.  In fact, I was a bit worried before I started this because the modern day characters in The Last Letter didn't appeal to me as much, so I was a bit skeptical about an entire novel in the modern era.  Fortunately, my fears were unfounded, and overall this is a strong story.
Another concern I had was that with one of the main characters being paraplegic, Moyes could easily make some controversial statements about quality of life given that Will Traynor wants to die.  However, I think she handles this well by showing different situations and opinions via internet chatrooms and showing how people may have differing views of quality of life, especially for themselves.
After Louisa Clark loses her job at the town cafe (it closed down), she faces a dire situation at the unemployment office given her lack of skills or education.  She has no qualification till finally her case worker finds a position for someone to serve as a companion care giver.  Someone else is already there to handle the more physical parts of it, but Will's mother wants him to have company during the day.
Louisa and Will come from different worlds.  Before his accident, Will was in a high power position in the city, he traveled the world and he engaged in dangerous hobbies like sky diving.  His world is now reduced to the guest house of his parents' estate.  Louisa was born and raised in the village in the shadow of the castle, and still lives with her parents.  She comes off as the quiet, dependable one though her parents also treat her as if she's a bit flighty.  Her younger sister was the smart one, and Louisa has accepted the role of sheltered one.  Her boyfriend is a fitness fanatic, though this is a recent development, and it becomes clear that she chose him originally because he was safe and unchallenging.
As the novel proceeds, Louisa finds herself challenged in ways she had not previously experienced while Will becomes more content than he has been in a long time.  While the novel addresses the challenges Will faces with his altered living conditions, Louisa is the main character and narrator.  As a result, it is probably best described as a novel about growing up, facing life and learning to take chances.  While Moyes's novels may not qualify as great literature, from what I've seen, they are reliable and touching entertainment.

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