“I thought briefly that I would never feel as intensely connected to the world, to another human being, as I did in that moment.”
Author: Jojo Moyes Published: 2012 Pages: 481
This book very much reminds me of Where Rainbows End. They are both romances about ordinary people who could so easily be real. This story is mainly narrated by Louisa Clark, a twenty-six-year-old who finds herself out of a job; in trying to find a new one, she meets Will Traynor, an adventure lover who was involved in an accident two years earlier and as a result is now a quadriplegic. Their personalities and upbringings could not be more different, but as they are forced to spend time together, they discover they have a lot more in common than they initially thought.
My expectations of this book were that it was going to be a lot more slushy and romantic than it was. As a hopeless romantic, I have no shame in admitting that I adore any “love conquers all” kind of storyline, however Jojo Moyes cleverly writes this book in a way which has its romantic moments, but also does not pretend love can solve everything. In a similar way to Where Rainbows End, it is frustrating because you want them to live happily every after, but their pain and emotion serves as a reminder that happily ever afters are not always so plausible.
Moyes’ writing is funny, relatable and heart-breakingly accurate. She manages to capture the story of Lou and Will in a way that has romantic moments but is not idealistic and does not deflect from the seriousness of Will’s injury. She uses their relationship to portray raw human desires and emotion. Lou discovers more of a purpose to her life through meeting Will and he in turn finds a reason to love life again. She presents extremely ordinary characters, in a somewhat unique, but not unheard of situation, and makes them loveable and relatable. The struggles they face are real and though the way they deal with them may be littered with faults, the reason it is such a page turner is because their faults become what you love about them.
The choice to switch narratives for a few of the chapters was an interesting one; at first I was horrified by the idea that I would now have to see the book develop through the eyes of someone other than Lou, but thankfully Moyes only writes from Camilla, Nathan, Treena and Steven’s perspective for a chapter each. This became a refreshing change of perspective and also a clever narrative tool to allow even more of Lou and Will’s relationship to be exposed. All the characters are affected by Will’s disability but what Moyes makes clear is that Will is affected the most. Only he can know the pain and suffering that he must endure, but equally, only he can throw himself back into life again. This did make me wonder why there wasn’t a chapter from Will’sperspective. As Moyes wants to emphasise that only Will knows what it is truly like to be a quadriplegic, it would have been nice to have some insight into his thoughts. But I suppose part of the beauty of Lou and Will’s relationship is that she becomes his voice, or rather, she becomes the only person who talks to him as the able bodied person he used to be and does not allow his injury to define him.
What I love is the honesty in Moyes’ writing and consequently in Lou’s narrative. She doesn’t make it picture perfect or pretend that Will’s injury is not a deafening blow on his life. What she does do is give a voice, and thus some control, to a man who felt he had lost control. Most of all she gives Will dignity in a time where he feels he has none, and for that alone, she has triumphed.
Three word summary: