Friday, October 31, 2014

"One Plus One" and "Me Before You": Entertaining, Romantic, and Endearing

Once again the Crystal Lake Public Library's "Hot Picks" section came through for me.  I discovered a new author, Jojo Moyes, and spent the last 4 days binge reading two of her latest books, "One Plus One" and "Me Before You." I had never heard of her before, but she shot up the U.K. bestseller charts with "Me Before You." Her most recent book, "One Plus One" came in at a respectable #11 on the bestseller charts with its release in July of this year.

What makes Jojo Moyes' books so irresistible stems from their "pretty woman-esque" vibe.  No, the main female characters in these two books are not prostitutes.  They are women of substance who are somewhat down on their luck. In both books the main female character meets a wealthy older man who is having a difficult time of it.  Romance ensues, problems with the romance arise, and some things are solved while others remain unsolvable.  I am oversimplifying the plot of both books, but in "Me Before You" when Will Traynor took Lou to the classical concert and she wore a fetching red dress and got tears in her eyes as soon as the music started, I was reminded of Julia Roberts and her tearful visit to the opera with Richard Gere at her side watching for her reaction.

Most of the similarities stop there, but just like "Pretty Woman" these books are genuinely likable with memorable characters and smart writing.

In "One Plus One" the main character, Jess struggles to make enough money for her and her two kids, Tanzie (who is a 10 year old math whiz who has terrible eyesight and loves sparkly clothing) and Nicky (her bullied, goth step-son) and their flatulent old dog, Norman.  When Tanzie gets a 90% scholarship to a private school because of her impressive math prowess, Jess finds a math competition that will help to cover the 10% tuition that she owes.  The only problem is the competition is in Scotland and with no way to really get there, it looks like the competition and the probable winnings are a lost cause.  But an unlikely hero, Ed Nicholls, who unbeknownst to Jess (who is his housekeeper) is also fighting a lost cause because of unintentional insider trading, helps the family to take the road trip to the math competition.

So much happens on this road trip and even after the road trip that to give any of it away would be too much of a spoiler.  Just know that if you haven't found a good chick lit book with substance lately, read this one.  You'll love it.

I read "Me Before You" after quickly devouring "One Plus One" and although the tale is a bit more murky (and will most likely be made into a movie since I could picture every scene on the big screen), I laughed, cried, and cheered my way through this book just as quickly as "One Plus One." The storyline of "Me Before You" follows the plight of Louisa (Lou) Clark who lacks ambition and scrambles to find employment after her beloved cafe job ends abruptly.  Although she lacks qualifications of any kind, she lands a temporary contract helping wealthy ex-businessman, Will Traynor, who suffered a severe accident leaving him a very angry quadriplegic. Will's mother hires Jess due to Jess's fire and spirit and her ability to be chatty in uncomfortable situations.  The situation with Will is depressing and Jess almost quits until she and her sister concoct a terrific "anti-bucket list" idea.  To give any more away would ruin this book as well, so just read it.

If you need two good books to dive into for the fall, I highly recommend becoming addicted to author Jojo Moyes and her entertaining, romantic and endearing stories. 

You won't regret it. 

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