Me Before You
Jojo Moyes, 2012
Penguin Group USA
They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose.
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart? (From the publisher.)
• Where—London, England, UK
• Education—B.A., London University
• Awards—Romantic Novel of the year (twice)
• Currently—lives in Essex, England
Jojo Moyes is a British journalist and the author of 10 novels published from 2002 to the present. She studied at Royal Holloway, University of London and Bedford New College, London University.
In 1992 she won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University, London. She subsequently worked for The Independent for the next 10 years (except for one year, when she worked in Hong Kong for the Sunday Morning Post) in various roles, becoming Assistant News Editor in 1988. In 2002 she became the newspaper's Arts and Media Correspondent.
Moyes became a full-time novelist in 2002, when her first book Sheltering Rain was published. She is most well known for her later novels, The Last Letter From Your Lover (2010), Me Before You (2012), and The Girl You Left Behind ( 2013), all of which were received with wide critical accalim.
She is one of only a few authors to have won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romantic Novel of the Year Award twice—in 2004 for Foreign Fruit and in 2011 for The Last Letter From Your Lover. She continues to write articles for The Daily Telegraph.
Moyes lives on a farm in Saffron Walden, Essex with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children. (Adapted from Wikipedia.)
When I finished this novel, I didn’t want to review it; I wanted to reread it. Which might seem perverse if you know that for most of the last hundred pages I was dissolved in tears. Jojo Moyes, the writer who produced this emotional typhoon, knows very well that “Me Before You” — a novel that has already floated high on Britain’s best-seller lists — is, as British critical consensus affirms, “a real weepy.” And yet, unlike other novels that have achieved their mood-melting powers through calculated infusions of treacle...Moyes’s story provokes tears that are redemptive, the opposite of gratuitous. Some situations, she forces the reader to recognize, really are worth crying over.
Liesl Schillinger - New York Times Book Review
In Moyes’s (The Last Letter from Your Lover) disarmingly moving love story, Louisa Clark leads a routine existence: at 26, she’s dully content with her job at the cafe in her small English town and with Patrick, her boyfriend of six years. But when the cafe closes, a job caring for a recently paralyzed man offers Lou better pay and, despite her lack of experience, she’s hired. Lou’s charge, Will Traynor, suffered a spinal cord injury when hit by a motorcycle and his raw frustration with quadriplegia makes the job almost unbearable for Lou. Will is quick-witted and sardonic, a powerhouse of a man in his former life (motorcycles; sky diving; important career in global business). While the two engage in occasional banter, Lou at first stays on only for the sake of her family, who desperately needs the money. But when she discovers that Will intends to end his own life, Lou makes it her mission to persuade him that life is still worth living. In the process of planning “adventures” like trips to the horse track—some of which illuminate Lou’s own minor failings—Lou begins to understand the extent of Will’s isolation; meanwhile, Will introduces Lou to ideas outside of her small existence. The end result is a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling.
Moyes’ latest is made heartwarming, thanks to the vibrancy of its main characters, both of whom will keep readers on their toes with their chemistry and witty repartee.... [H]umorous and romantic through and through.
A young woman finds herself while caring for an embittered quadriplegic in this second novel from British author Moyes (The Last Letter from Your Lover, 2011). Louisa has no apparent ambitions. At 26, she lives with her working-class family (portrayed with rollicking energy) in a small English town, carries on a ho-hum relationship with her dull boyfriend and works at a local cafe.... [D]on't expect an easy romantic ending. Despite some obviousness in the storyline, this is uplift fiction at its best, with fully drawn characters making difficult choices.
1. If you were Louisa, would you have quit working for the Traynors? If yes, at what point?
2. Were you able to relate to the way Will felt after his accident? What about his outlook on life did you find most difficult to understand or accept?
3. Discuss the meaning of the novel’s title. To whom do the “me” and “you” refer?
4. Louisa often finds Mrs. Traynor cold and judgmental. Is there an appropriate way to behave in Mrs. Traynor’s situation?
5. What is your opinion of Mr. Traynor? Did it change after you read his side of the story?
6. Why is Louisa able to reach Will when so many others could not?
7. Were you as surprised as Lou to learn of Will’s plans?
8. Compare Louisa’s relationship with Treena to Will’s relationship with Georgina. Do siblings know one another any better simply because they are related?
9. Would Patrick have asked Louisa to move in with him if he hadn’t felt threatened by Will? If Louisa had never accepted her job with the Traynors, where would her relationship with Patrick have gone?
10. Discuss Louisa’s own secret ties to the castle. Would most girls in her situation have blamed themselves? Should Treena have behaved differently in the aftermath?
11. What did you make of the way Lou’s mother, Josie, judges Lou’s decisions regarding Will. Is Josie’s reaction fair?
12. Before his accident, Will was a philanderer and a corporate raider who would probably never have given Louisa a second look. Why is it that people are so often unable to see what’s truly important until they’ve experienced loss?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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