Book Review: Me Before You

1550795812649718First of all a GIANT THANK YOU to Rebecca from Viking/Penguin for generously sending us not just one but THREE copies of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes! Now everyone in our Wink Three Book Club can have a good cry! Although this one is bit of a chick-lit read it is NOT a romance novel. It is more of a love story if anything– with a twist.

It is 2007 and Will Traynor is a hot shot business man. He has a Go! Go! Go! lifestyle, a smoking hot girlfriend and a designer apartment in the heart of London. He spends his weekends skiing, bungee jumping or travelling the world and he loves it! But everything changes for Will when he gets hit by a motorcycle on his way to work and becomes a quadriplegic.

Louisa (Lou) Clark is a quirky but simple girl who hasn’t done much with her life just yet. She works at a local restaurant and she really enjoys spending time with her customers– she sees them as a family of sorts because that is the kind of gal Lou is– her world is small. She is 26 years old and has never been anywhere far from home. She still lives at home, in the smallest room of the house and is comfortable with her boyfriend of seven years (Patrick, a former fatty who is now a marathon runner). Lou’s world is turned upside down when the restaurant abruptly closes down and she finds herself out of a job. She goes to the local job-seeker office where they suggest several things she is qualified to do– chicken farmer, pole dancer, adult chat-line supervisor aaaaand — personal care assistant for a quadriplegic– who happens to be Will.

With reservations Lou takes the job– it is only a six month contract, it pays well and she soon finds out why– Will is a bit of an a$$hole. He is moody, superior and insulting. His prickly behaviour often reduces her to tears. She finds ways to avoid being in the room with him and even considers quitting– but she really needs the money. Their relationship begins to blossom when Lou discovers that challenging and defying Will works better than crying and cowering. As she spends more time interacting with him Will realizes that Lou is homey and timid because she has never been given the opportunity to shine. They become each others’ pet projects. Will introduces Lou to his intellectual and worldly life before the accident– books, music and travel– and Lou introduces Will to enjoying the small things– laughing, nonsense and spending time with friends. A perfect recipe for LOVE– but it is not that easy.

There is another reason Lou has only been hired for six months. In addition to helping Will out with everyday tasks like eating and cleaning she has also been handed the task of cheering him up. Not just cheering him up, but cheering him up to the point that he no longer wants to take his own life. That is the twist. Will has been in contact with the assisted-suicide company Dignitas— he cannot cope with life in the wheelchair and has chosen to end it all. Lou has only 6 months to give him something to live for. Will she be able to do it??

For the most part the story is narrated from Lou’s perspective as she gets closer and closer to the deadline. The banter between Lou and Will was fantastic– the way they went at each other was charming and made me love them both– warts and all. There were also 4 chapters from 4 different perspectives (Will’s mother Camilla, Will’s physiotherapist, Nathan, Will’s father, Steven and Lou’s sister, Kartina) which provided a cool voyeuristic insight into the whole Lou-Will relationship which really added to the story. 3.5 stars (almost a 4 but the banter slowed down as the deadline arrived and that took away a bit of the charm for me– but it did NOT keep me from bawling like a baby). Looking forward to Book Club night on March 21st!! Hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I did!

I stole a look at Will. He was rapt, suddenly unselfconscious. I turned away, unexpectedly afraid to look at him. I was afraid of what he might be feeling, the depth of his loss, the extent of his fears. Will Traynor’s life had been so far beyond the experiences of mine. Who was I to tell him how he should want to live it? ~ Lou

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Busy reading ahead!

We keep saying that we’re going to prepare a spreadsheet that is going to lay out for us all the books that “need” to be read over the next couple of months. Once this spreadsheet is created though, there really needs to be the push to stay on track and follow it! Such a dilemma isn’t it when all these great books keep popping up, like shiny little objects to distract and pull your attention away!

We’ve often written that we start to feel anxious at the growing piles to read. There is just so much coming out that we want to get our hands on!

For most of February and March however, we have our reading lists made for us courtesy of our Wink 3 Book Club, Opinionless Online Book Club and advanced reading books from publishers. For Opinionless, we have 2 author visits to look forward to in March! Details below: (you are also all more than welcome to join us!)

February:

On February 28, the Opinionless Book Club will meet to discuss Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and while Michelle, Aaron and Jackie have already read and reviewed the book I’m still waffling as to whether or not I’ll read it. Sigh, I’ve been reading a few stinkers so far this year and I don’t want to commit myself to wasting time reading another one. The three Opinionless members have already rated it at only 3 stars with each saying the same thing, opens with a strong and laugh out loud start, tanks in the middle and continues to a dismal, cheese-filled ending. Well, I did make the commitment to read 1Q84 and struggled through, I may pass this one up and just participate in the call for the fun and laughs it will surely bring. Plus, Ernest won’t be joining us, so no worries there. 🙂

March:

And is March really coming up that quickly? We have plenty on the plates to read for this month…

For the Opinionless Book Club, we have a fun-filled month of two author visits!

First up will be Matthew J. Trafford, author of The Divinity Gene. These are short stories and Matthew will join in the Skype discussion on March 20. I believe this will be the first foray in to reading short stories for Jackie and I? Aaron has already jumped the gun and read them all saying they are great and glorious stuff.

Matthew has won the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction and an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards and has twice been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Prize. He lives in Toronto, where he works with Deaf college students and performs long-form improv with his brother in their two-person troupe, The Bromos. (taken from Douglas & McIntyre publishers of The Divinity Gene).

Next up is Simon Lelic, author of The Child Who. The Opinionless Book Club will read and chat with Simon on a Sunday afternoon! March 25 is the date and again, the invitation is open to read The Child Who and join us! Way to keep it with the Commonwealth for author visits Aaron! First, a Canadian author Nicole Lundrigan, next will be Matthew J. Trafford and finally British author Lelic. 🙂 Aaron is a major fan of Mr. Lelic’s so this is quite the coup to be given the chance to speak personally with him. (and a great thanks to him for taking the time out on a Sunday afternoon to talk with us!)

For our Wink 3 Book Club, we seemed to have been at an impasse at the last meeting for choosing which book to read for our March meeting…

I’m still really, really hoping the vote goes to The Snow Child! (and I know you do to Jackie!) the other one that is the strongest contender is A Good American, by Alex George. It does look good too, but maybe if I put the picture of The Snow Child up it will sway more votes. 🙂 heehee. It’s Chatelaine’s Book Club choice for March, can it be ours as well?

And finally, (well, no, not really finally, because you know there will be so much more put in there!) is a gorgeous looking book called The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R by Carole DeSanti. We thankfully received this advance reading copy from the publisher, Thomas Allen Ltd. and I cannot wait to lose myself in this story. The cover, the pages, the feel of this book is total luxury.

We’re also still determined to read from our shelves more over the next coming months and we also have many waiting for us from Netgalley that look to be great and wonderful reads! I keep gazing at my shelves and noticing the many, many books patiently waiting for me! Plus there is Book Club Girl’s soon to be announced read-a-long for the Bess Crawford Series by Charles Todd. I’m definitely looking forward to that! Please join me too! It will be fun!

Many other books are coming out in March and in to April…May also has some waiting for us, courtesy of publishers like Thomas Allen and Random House! Thank you! Can’t wait to read and review!

November’s issue of Chatelaine introduces their Book Club

My November issue of Chatelaine arrived in today’s mail. Chatelaine has recently undergone a major transformation in their magazine, both in look and content. I was delighted to see that this month’s issue rolls out (in a very visually appealing manner) The Chatelaine Book Club. (although I note that if you go online, it appears to have started in August…)

This month’s pick is a great one, one that we’re very excited to since it follows her remarkable debut novel, The Birth House. Yes, November’s pick is The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay!

Chatelaine’s Book of the Month is described as, “Stealing Beauty: a gut-wrenching new novel about lost childhood set in 1870s New York.”

McKay’s inspiration for the book is reported as coming from a portrait of Ami’s great-great-grandmother, Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, hung above the piano in their Indiana home and has enchanted her since she was little. Sarah was one of the first female doctors in New York and specialized in women’s and children’s health. (sounds like inspiration for The Birth House too!)

So Chatelaine’s Book Club provides the chance to read along each month and join online for extras like Editor Chats, Author Q&A’s, Blog postings and Contests (win free fabulous books and more!). A suggestion for the Wink 3 Book Club? Read alongside Chatelaine’s?? What do you think ladies?

Chatelaine includes 4 more pages of books featuring the Man Booker Awards and their 10 fave Man Booker Winners. It also features Editor’s picks and includes the controversial book, Gold Mountain Blues, by Ling Zhang. (The author is in the middle of a growing plagiarism controversy charged by several Canadian authors including Wayson Choy.)

I’m looking forward to participating in Chatelaine’s Book Club each month!