First I said forget it, absolutely not, I won’t read it. Then I picked it up gingerly and scanned the first few pages, pausing to roll my eyes in case anyone was watching. Then I ducked down an alley and devoured it.
When I heard about the set up of Jojo Moyes novel, Me Before You (working class young woman in small English village becomes caregiver for wealthy, brilliant and angry quadriplegic and both are forever changed, et cetera), I adhered to my rule: I won’t read a book that is going to become a film that Julia Roberts is going to insist she is young enough to play the lead in.
I assumed this would be a conventional and predictable romance but it’s fair to warn fans of the romance genre that they might not find this book entirely satisfying. However, as a book group book, I will say it goes down easy (my group just read Cleopatra and we are now soldiering through The Professor and the Madman - all fascinating stuff, but I for one am tired) while managing to ask some of the big questions: What would make you want to live? And since I brought it up, what would make you want to die? Is great love enough to live for? What is life, if spent confined to a chair? Is it still a gift? What does it mean to have a full life? Who can we say has transformed us?
Yes, there is some sappiness here, but Moyes compassionately offers us a window into characters who at first seem unsympathetic or formulaic. No one is a one-dimensional villain in this story. Mostly, I simply enjoyed reading it because it was diverting and though sad, also uplifting.
I can feel Julia Roberts brushing up on her English accent right now. And Keira Knightly is feeling huffy about it.