A throwback and a review (Me before you by jojo moyes)

Posted by Divya at Tuesday, October 07, 2014 2 comments Links to this post
The summer of 2001, I had a whole 2 months to kill in a city, where I knew nobody. I was in Chennai in her toughest months, weather wise. I didnt own a computer or a two-wheeler. Mobile phones weren't around. We were on a waiting-list for a telephone line. ( Not that I could afford making day long phone calls to anybody! ). And we as a family had a general apathy for TV, except news during dinner time. For many years after cable was the norm, we had still stuck to broadcasts via the rickety aluminum antenna.

So clearly there was just one logical and everlasting thing to do; To read. My father didnt believe in squandering money on racy novels that teenagers often read. Of course! at 13 I was mad at him whenever a rich friend would let me borrow her rows and rows of Nancy Drews. But he was wise; he taught me the love for libraries by joining me in one and asking me to borrow as often and encouraging to borrow different genres. So when I reveled to him once about "journey to the center of the earth" and how inspiring it had felt, he got me a copy of that and 20,000 leagues under the sea for the keeps from the second-hand market; Unabriged versions. I read those books many times during my teenage years, each time my imagination running wilder than the last!

So that's how it had been. And I eventually figured, that if I am to own a book, I must earn it! it must be my real-real-real favorite, a classic; and over time it had come naturally, what my father had tried to imbibe.

So in the sweltering summer of Madras, I would walk a good 2 miles every other day in the morning to Senthil library in RAPuram. Borrow my companion for the next 24 to 48 hours and head back to read under the whirring fan and beads of perspiration.

At 17, in the broiling heat of Chennai, I devoured most Aurthur Hailey, every Sydney Sheldon and every other Danielle Steele. I wouldnt say the plots were the same for Sydney Sheldon, although the motifs were; but Danielle steel was definitely addictive  and mediocre (if i may say so) in a way Harris Jayaraj's music is. If you have read a few, you can figure a pattern and predict the next one. And they are all fairly engaging, well written Dramas, again like HJ's music, which doesnt usually come across as bad neither as extraordinary.

My tryst with DS had abruptly ended after I discovered Jane Austen. and the JAs I then owned, I read, I re-read. Then there were a few other lone stars like "the painted veil" by somersaut maugham and "god of small things", "the fountainhead" and "the suitable boy" that left painful impacts, books I have re-read, re-read parts, inhabited and exited from time to time. Books I cherished, cried and laughed with.

Few books other than Harry Potter have left a mark that strong in recent times for me.

And it is true that you discover such true companions by chance, when you least expect it. Hidden and tucked away in a library corner or among the old boxes in the attic. Or something you picked up at the railway station for a journey ahead.

So it was on a whim that I asked a group of mothers, if anyone was interested in a book club. And I picked "Me before you", purely based on a 'romance' genre and expecting a dejavu of maudlin treatment like DS books. I knew nothing else about the novel, except that the author had won awards twice for romantic books genre!

Thats when this book tossed, tumbled and surprised me. In ways I didnt expect. 

Me Before you by Jojo Moyes
It is a difficult book in many ways and definitely a difficult one to review. It is also witty and heart-breaking at the same time. A combination I have rarely hit, especially something I didnt expect with a story line as simple as a guy in the wheelchair and his care-giver fall in love.

The book treads like it has a heart of its own. Trundling and open. Never trying to trick the reader into something else. Thats what hit the spot for me. The book is honest. It doesnt swivel the unhappiness wheel over and over, as the topic very well can!

It is tough to not fall in love with Lousia, who isn't perfect, who like a lot of other British female lead characters of the country-side I have read of in other books like (La in la's orchestra saves the world and the members of the "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" ) charms with her wit and energy. Like a remark in the book somwehere "She truly brightens up the space" holds true for her from the beginning.

On the other hand is Will, who takes time to warm up to the reader. the character I am glad the author sketched in a way that expects and creates less sympathy and more intrigue at the beginning. Sometimes you are even mad at him for fighting his circumstances, which could have been worse for someone not as fortunate as him wealth-wise. But as the story moves, you change from that cringing onlooker to meeting the person within, looking beyond the wheelchair and you even start to empathise and thats when it becomes crushing and exhilarating at the same time.

And thats how the author renders a story in peals, in layers, beautifully engaging; how the unique relationship of Lou and Will comes about, and organically they grow to help each other in ways that wasnt even fathomable when the story began.

There are conversations and quotes that leave your heart beating fast. that i am sure I will re-read someday to enter the warmth and coldness of the space it creates. There is also sarcasm and witty remarks that make you laugh with joy! And somewhere she will flip you back to reality with that quote like ""sorry clark, i cant do witty today"" And you wish like Lou, wish you have at that moment, just once more, one last time to enter that surreal space.

The story is predictable, but wise and holds surprises, with your own emotions. Even if you knew how it would end at the very beginning, you still wish to read to plunge to dwell, to support and sail through the waves. There may be moments you will sob with all you have got and yet be mixed about how you feel.

It is a beautiful book, that may even leave you to question yourself of choices you made and are making. Of closing your eyes and watching the characters come alive affably. Of still feeling haunted and agog in the paradox of the story for days after you turned the last page. In believing that "happily ever after" is not always like in fairy tales.

Romance is but a fragrant breeze that lingers throughout the pages,unwritten, untold never really entering the mawkish. It is truly much more and a deep novel. I wouldnt say it is a book you must read, but it is truly an experience you wouldnt want to miss in this lifetime!


I am glad I am reader. I am glad that is something I will never regret. I am glad for the world of books my parents and technology-sans childhood drove me to. I am glad there is always a private world of my own I can create when the real one gets claustrophobic. I am glad!


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