Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me before youI am a strong believer in reading the book before you see the movie, as you may already know. Never succumb to the lazy option because the book is nearly always better. The universe that you can paint with words is so much richer, more intense than anything a camera can achieve. For that reason I finally picked up a copy of Me before you by Jojo Moyes. (The movie is released on June 3rd, starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke).

When I picked up this book I was fully expecting a fluffy, escapist love story. Something light to read after a day of tedious science. I was not expecting the deep, thoughtful and important story that I ended up reading.

Me before you is a story of Louisa Clarke, a girl who has lived the same day over and over for the past seven years. Until she loses her job. She is then forced out of the comfortable bubble. This is how she ends up being carer to Will Traynor, a handsome, smart, witty man who unfortunately is quadriplegic.

This beautiful story took twists and turns that I did not anticipate when I picked it up. Both Will and Lou have secrets that tyrannize the way that they live their lives. Lou, afraid to take a step outside of the little town that she was born in and Will, too bitter to leave the annex his parents built for him. Through the course of the book, as the friendship blooms between this unlikely pair you see them both start to contemplate stepping out of the worlds they have confined themselves to. It is beautifully constructed and entirely believable.

Me before you addressed some really difficult and important questions. It gave concepts a human face: instead of looking at numbers, at the law, or semantics, this book explored the emotional burden of choices we have to make, on ourselves and our loved ones.

It is sometimes difficult to form opinions on important ethical questions because we are dealing entirely in hypotheticals. Me before you brings the hypothetical into reality, and forces you to consider what it means to live.

The only grudge that I have with this book is the love story, Will and Lou being IN love felt contrived. This, in addition to Will’s lack of friends, seemed to suggest that the love of friendship is insufficient to deal with difficult life (or death) choices. It was as if only romantic or familial love means anything when the going gets tough, and I know that is utter drivel.

Apart from my one complaint I really enjoyed and highly recommend this book. It makes you laugh, but it also makes you cry. It makes you think about what makes a meaningful life. It pushes you to evaluate your own beliefs and see how they hold up to scrutiny.

It was not a fluffy, empty, easy book after all.

 

A quick note on my reviews

I am wholly unqualified to call any of the things I have written or will write about books genuine ‘reviews’. They are all just my opinions and there will be hardly any fancy analysis of the use of words, structure, themes or any of it because quite frankly that is not why I read books. I read books to escape, and I read books for fun, and delving deeper into a book is something I reserve for my absolute favourites such as (sorry for being so obvious) The Great Gatsby. Also I dropped English ages ago so I really do not know what I am talking about.

Just a disclaimer so you know what to expect!

xo

Far From The Madding Crowd

Is it wrong to do a book review before you have finished the whole book? I think the answer is yes, but seriously I might never reach the end of this one. It might be the last book I ever read. I am determined but I just don’t care enough to actually finish it. There are so many long words that I don’t get, the back of the book holds all the definitions but flipping to and fro is beyond tedious and breaks up the whole reading experience.

This is one of those books where I am seriously considering giving up the reading and just watching the movie. But morally I can’t, even thinking the idea makes me queasy with guilt. So to be able to watch the movie guilt free I have to finish this book. Even if it kills me.

The problem is that the love story just isn’t compelling in my opinion. Is it me or are all the potential suitors just awful?

Firstly there is Oak, I like Oak the most out of all of the possibilities, but he doesn’t even try to court Bathsheba properly, he just jumps all the way ahead to marriage. And when she says no, he is still weirdly possessive – stalking her night walks through the farm and telling her who is good for her. I suppose some may call this romantic, but for a free spirit like Bathsheba it seems suffocating.

Then there is Boldwood, who is obviously far too boring for the likes of Bathsheba Everdene. Nothing more needs to be said about him.

And then Troy. I have read far too much Jane Austen not to recognise that the charming man the girl falls for is not the right one, remember Wickham or Willoughby?!

The only reason that I can keep turning the pages is Bathsheba Everdene. A woman so fiercely independent that she runs her own farm without a bailiff, much to the dismay of the men working for her. She is a refreshing character in a classic novel; even Elizabeth Bennet was not this exciting. For me the perfect ending to this story would be that she does not marry any of these ill-suited matches and stays a single, free, wild, independent woman, climbing the ladder of success with no one to stop her. I mean with a kick-ass name like Bathsheba she should be able to do anything.

Books

I love books, so much so that I refuse to throw away any book. Ever. Even if I don’t like it and I can’t see myself reading it ever again, it will stay on my shelf gathering dust.

Even my mother knows not to throw them away, having learnt from a serious misstep a while ago: I came home to find the whole bookcase empty – to make way for ‘more important things’ by which she meant empty files and printing paper. Not impressed. I may never get over that massive loss.

Since starting taking exams, I have sorely missed reading for pleasure and in an attempt to give me some motivation to read more, even during term time, I will post a review on here whenever I finish a book. Lets see if this experiment works!