Paris For One by JoJo Moyes, a short story to start the year

Jay at Bibliophilopolis has sponsored a short story event called Deal Me In for several years. I have haphazardly dipped in and out of this challenge because I do not normally read many short stories. Yet, their power is not to be underestimated; in fact, it seems a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon: reading something brief but powerful before the work week starts.

I have begun with a short story from JoJo Moyes’ collection, Paris for One. There are nine stories in this book with the following titles:

  1. Paris For One
  2. Between The Tweets
  3. Love in the Afternoon
  4. A Bird in the Hand
  5. Crocodile Shoes
  6. Holdups
  7. Last Year’s Coat
  8. Thirteen Days with John C
  9. The Christmas List

“Paris for One”, the first story, is about Nell, who unexpectedly ends up in Paris alone after her boyfriend has essentially abandoned her. She is a person who likes to be in control of her life, planning each detail to the smallest minutiae, and so this unexpected event could have thrown her into a panic. But, when she finds two tickets to a sold out performance, she decides to go and abruptly changes the course of her weekend and her life.

This was a simple story, but a charming one, written in JoJo’s inimitable, comfortable style. I will enjoy reading the others in this collection for Jay’s challenge.

And you? Do you have any favorite short stories?

The One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

JoJo Moyes has a writing style which is so down to earth, so in touch with her endearing characters, that it makes me embrace all that is imperfect in this world. Suddenly, the flaws which offend me  about me about myself dwindle down to size, and I am able to smile at how often one’s dreams are thwarted. 
Jess is the glittery nail polished, flip-flop wearing heroine of the novel, who cleans houses, works in a bar, and cares for her two children. One is a stepson who keeps getting beaten up, and copes with life by hiding away with his stash. The other is a girl whose passion and strength is Math. It also resides with Norman, the huge, black family dog.
When these four are found next to the broken down Rolls that Jess’ husband left her, the adventure begins. They had been on their way to a Maths Olympiad, in the hopes that the little girl could win such a competition and gain the money required for acceptance into the private school, St. Anne’s. But, as strong as Jess’ determination was, it wasn’t strong enough to carry them from London to Scotland in a broken down car with no insurance.
Fortunately, Ed Nicholls, a client of Jess’ found them. He volunteers to drive the whole group in his immaculate car, and before long a hilarious and grievous debacle begins. The dog, Norman, drools all over the leather seats which have chocolate buttons now melted into the crevices; sweaters and books are cast about; real life has entered in to Ed’s luxurious, but crumbling, life.
Of course, it’s clear that the Ed and Jess will fall in love. That their strengths and weaknesses compliment one another. But, a wedge comes between them which could effectively divide them forever.
In The One Plus One JoJo Moyes writes of our imperfections, the ultimate kindness of strangers, unlikely heroes, and most of all, hope.
For, as Jess says, “Good things do happen.” It’s just up to us to believe that they do.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

‘Some mistakes…just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let that night be the thing that defines you.’
It’s hard to type a review with tears in your eyes, and on your cheeks, and falling into the keyboard, but I’ll try. Because I just finished Me Before You and I have to write about it now.
There are millions of love stories out there but few that get to the core of what the couple means to one another, a meaning beyond physical attraction and personal fulfillment. But the story JoJo Moyes has written of Will Traynor and Lou Clark goes exactly there.
We meet Will when he is a successful businessman, leaving his gorgeous girlfriend to go to his high powered job. It is a brief introduction, for on the second page he is struck by a motorcycle. From then on, we see him as the quadriplegic he has become. 
Enter Louisa Clark, who’s lost her job at the Buttered Bun cafe. She is employed by Will’s mother to be his caretaker, although she has had no experience with the medical needs of a quad. What she does know, however, is how to be witty, how to be colorful, how to bring more than a spark of joy into Will’s life.
What she doesn’t know is that Will has promised his parents only six months until he goes to Dignitas in Switzerland, a place where he can die because he cannot bear the life he is forced to live. It is a life with no control, no capabilities, no choices left but one.
This is a complex novel, examining much more than the love between two people. It also examines how our lives can enrich one another, and how we can reach beyond our fallibilites and limitations to show how much we truly care. It is very powerful and deeply moving.

Many thanks to Penguin Books UK for sending me Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.

Read JoJo’s blog here.