Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

I had seen the film of my second holiday read before, so when I saw both Me Before You and the sequel on sale together, I happily bought both. I have a theory about film adaptations – have I hopped on this soapbox before? – that because the film is always better than the book (obviously) you should watch the film first whenever possible. That way, you can fully enjoy the film without these impossible-to-meet expectations, and when it’s time to read the book, you enjoy that too because it’s even better than the film you enjoyed and you get so much more out of it! (For the same reason, you should always eat the strawberry cremes first as well. That way you can really enjoy the hazelnut pralines, instead of chomping your way heedlessly through them, like a chore, just so you can get to the good ones.)

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Ew, pralines.

However, it’s pretty rare that I get to live out my theory, because a) the cinema in London is flipping expensive b) films take a flipping long time to make and c) I read really flipping fast! So when the opportunity comes along, I grab it. I wasn’t going to go and see Me Before You, because I knew some of the controversy it contained and I didn’t necessarily want to touch that can of worms, but I met up with a friend (hello, Book Fairy!) and she really wanted to see it, so we did. And – tangent alert – it’s so good. The star-studded cast do a brilliant job, and Moyes wrote the screenplay herself so I trusted the integrity of the story. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, so I hadn’t come across Emilia Clarke before, but GOODGOLLYMISSMOLLY can that girl act! She’s phenomenal – I swear to God, there was one scene near the end where her face did not move – it didn’t move! – but you could literally see a thought enter her mind! Incrrrrredible face-acting. She expressed more in the subconscious twitch of an eyebrow hair than many people can express in a whole dissertation.

Ahem. Tangent over.

Anyway, my theory holds up yet again. I really enjoyed the film, but the book is much better (duh) with whole characters and backstories, which didn’t make it past the cutting room floor, bringing a richness and fullness to the narrative. In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what subjects Me Before You includes, the story follows Louisa, a mid-twenties woman still living at home with her family in a small town. She loses her job and finds a new one as a carer for Will, who lost the use of his arms and legs in a motorbike accident and subsequently lost the desire to continue living. I don’t want to go into what is an overwhelmingly complex and sensitive issue on this post – that’s not the point of my little blog – and to be fair, neither does Moyes, really. She writes a story that is innately human, and very fair in that you can understand and relate to pretty much every character (but especially Will and Louisa as the protagonists). Moyes’ writing reminds me a little of Jodi Picoult in some ways; that ability to get the reader to think beyond their ideas of a theoretical issue, and to empathise with a character in a situation instead. One of the reasons I love Picoult’s writing is her ability as an author to play devil’s advocate and really get you to understand viewpoints that you never in a million years would have thought you could, and Moyes does the same here. You understand where everyone is coming from, and it’s very hard to take sides; or at least I found it hard to. This is a skill I immensely admire in an author – and indeed, in a human being! I’d go so far as so say this is an example of why storytelling is vitally important – crucial – to the human race, and to personal growth; because this is the kind of writing which fosters empathy, bridge-building, understanding, and respect.

Read with a box of tissues to hand.

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