Well Jojo Moyes has done it again! By that I mean she has made me fall in love with the characters, made me laugh and made me cry. There I was on my sick bed giving into my emotions at a particularly sad part of the tale, when the doorbell rang. Not only had I been suffering with a high temperature meaning I was sweaty, my hair stuck unflatteringly to my head and in my most comfy pyjamas, I then had to answer the door to the DHL man. He looked seriously concerned probably because the red blotches from crying looked even more alarming against my deathly pale skin, so I muttered ‘a virus’ signed on the magic machine and scooted upstairs, straight back to this book.
So what is it about? The One Plus One is very different to both The Girl You Left Behind and Me Before You; although the storyline keeps you reading in exactly the same way, the underlying plot is in many ways less defined. This isn’t about war-time or living life as a quadriplegic, there is no ‘big issue’ instead The One Plus One looks at the more mundane, but perhaps because of that, the more significant issue of hope. At its root the story is that of Jess Thomas who is trying to improve the lives of two children, her daughter Tanzie and her step-son Nicky.
This book provides a social commentary on many issues covering the core subjects of low income families seemingly fruitless struggle to improve their lives and those of their children, blended families and the way that it isn’t uncommon to live in an unusual mix of relationships as well as the gap in perception between those better off members of society. It also packs fractured family relationships, parental illness and bullying, so there is plenty to get your teeth into!
Jess Thomas is one gutsy character, optimistic against seemingly impossible odds, a single mother since Marty left two years previously. She has a cleaning company with her friend, a second job in a pub and a paperback book addiction (all bought from charity shops) and although she adores the children, like so many mothers is so busy working she doesn’t always have time to enjoy them.
Ed Nicholls is having women problems, he is also the director of an up and coming software company has two homes and several cars. When Jess meets him while cleaning his home the enmity between them soon becomes apparent but in a strange twist of fate they are forced to spend quite a lot of time together….
This is very much a character based story and the characters Ed, Jess, Nicky and Tanzie all take turns in narrating events. This is one book where this device works well to give a rounded picture of each of their individual personalities. Jess and her family are instantly likeable the depiction of children of that age an authentic one, Moyes hasn’t fallen into the trap of making the teenage Nicky in the mould of the popular cliché, yes he is sullen at times but with good reason, but he is far more like the teenagers who came through the door of my house than many I come across in books.
I don’t want to say anything else as I don’t want to spoil the story for all of you who are going to pick it up, but I can’t conclude this review without saying that this is one author who has an unerring eye for detail. She perfectly captures the quirks of human nature and has the ability to tell a cracking story, one that will have you laughing one moment and fighting back (or not bothering if you are poorly) the tears the next. I would thoroughly recommend this one.
I received a free copy of this book from Penguin Books UK in return for this review ahead of publication on 27 February 2014.
“I don’t understand how our family can basically do the right thing and yet always end up in the crap.”
Other books by Jojo Moyes:
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A dual time-line tale set in France during the First World War and London in the present day. Sophie and Liv’s lives are linked by a painting.
“Conned any other women out of their valuables lately ?” she says quietly, so quietly that only he will hear it.
“Nope. I’ve been too busy stealing handbags and seducing the vulnerable.”
Her head shoots up and his eyes lock on hers. He is, she sees with some shock, as furious as she is.”
Will Traynor is a quadriplegic whose life is changed when Lou Clark is employed to help him. This grim sounding story-line is lightened to unrecognisable heights by Jojo Moyes’ expert writing which lightens the mood while sucking you and then Bam! you’re in a sad bit and sobbing….
“Do you know how hard it is to say nothing? When every atom of you strains to do the opposite? I had practiced not saying anything the whole way from the airport, and it was still nearly killing me.”