I knew I was an outlier when I was the only person who put my hand up to indicate that I had not enjoyed Jojo Moyes‘s novel Me Before You. While a few folks abstained, almost everyone else really liked it.
If you’ve seen my earlier posting on 2014 books read, you might have noticed that I listed it as LR – light, enjoyable read – on further reflection, I think NMT – not my type – is more accurate.
My opinion: As a general statement I felt the characters – with the exception of Louisa – needed further development. Several felt like caricatures: the self-absorbed sister, the inept mother (Louisa’s), the domineering mother (Will’s) the philandering father (Will’s), the clueless boyfriend. Will, in particular, needed more development. His circumstances and momentous decision deserved more focus. The story was too predictable and the ending rather trite. Sappy is the word that comes to mind, although Moyes does a good job of framing the debate about assisted suicide.
Jill, our fearless leader, had a great list of questions for the group. Spoiler alert if you haven’t read this novel.
Did you relate to Will’s feelings about his life as a quadriplegic?
This led to a lively discussion of whether Will had given up too soon, the fact that no one should impose their values on someone in such circumstances, a consideration of living wills, a comparison to Christopher Reeves who lived with great purpose as a quadriplegic, and the notion that many treat quadriplegics as people who can’t rather than people who can. Jill also provided many facts about Dignitas, the Swiss organization that has helped people end their lives since 1942.
What’s the meaning of the title Me Before You?
One possible meaning is Will’s decision to choose his desire to end his life over Louisa’s love. Another possible meaning is Louisa (Me) before she met Will (You). This is consistent with Louisa as the main character. The group also put forward the notion that almost every character put themselves first – Louisa’s sister, Will’s father and mother, Will’s sister, Louisa’s boyfriend being prime examples.
Where would Louisa and Patrick’s relationship have gone without Will Traynor coming on the scene?
Most felt that it would have ended in marriage, that Patrick was a safe choice for Louisa, and that choices for marriage were limited due to her small-town, relatively poor upbringing.
Why did Will’s mother choose Louisa for the job of looking after Will?
Because she was so different and gave the impression that she might take a fresh approach to looking after Will. We also discussed Louisa’s character: how she was used by everyone in her life and the strength she develops as she learns to look after Will
Was the ending satisfying?
Yes was the resounding answer.
Do you feel comfortable with a place like Dignitas?
Everyone who spoke up said yes.
Will I read another novel by Jojo Moyes? Apparently The Girl You Left Behind is very good, and it’s set during WWI, my favourite period.
M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available in paperback from Amazon and in e-book formats from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.