Me Before You

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For the 2016 film based on the book, see Me Before You.
Me Before You
'Me Before You'.jpg
Author Jojo Moyes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre
  • Adult novel
  • Realistic fiction
Publication date
5 January 2012
(Penguin Books)
Media type Print (hardcover, paperback)
e-book
Pages 480
ISBN 0-71-815783-4

Me Before You is a romance novel written by Jojo Moyes. The book was first published on 5 January 2012 in the United Kingdom. A sequel titled After You was released 29 September 2015 through Pamela Dorman Books.[1][2]

Plot[edit]

Twenty-six-year-old Louisa Clark lives with her working-class family. Unambitious and with few qualifications, she feels constantly outshone by her younger sister, Treena, an outgoing single mother. Louisa, who helps support her family, loses her job at a local café when the café closes. She goes to the Job Centre and, after several failed attempts, is offered a unique employment opportunity: help care for Will Traynor, a successful, wealthy, and once-active young man who was paralysed in a motorcycle accident two years earlier. Will's mother, Camilla, hires Louisa despite her lack of experience, believing Louisa can brighten his spirit. Louisa meets Nathan, who cares for Will's medical needs, and Will's father, Steven, a friendly upper-class businessman whose marriage to Camilla is strained.

Louisa and Will's relationship starts out rocky due to his bitterness and resentment over being disabled. Things worsen after Will's ex-girlfriend, Alicia, and best friend Rupert reveal that they are getting married. Under Louisa's care, Will gradually becomes more communicative and open-minded as they share experiences together. Louisa notices Will's scarred wrists and later overhears his mother and sister discussing how he attempted suicide shortly after Camilla refused his request to end his life through Dignitas, a Swiss-based assisted suicide organisation. Horrified by his attempt, Camilla promised to honour her son's wish, but only if he agreed to live six more months. Camilla intends to prove that, in time, he will believe his life's worth living.

Louisa conceals knowing about Will and Camilla's agreement. However, she tells Treena, and together they devise ways that will help convince Will to abandon his death wish. Over the next few weeks, Will loosens up and lets Louisa shave his beard and cut his shaggy hair. Louisa begins taking Will on outings and the two grow closer.

Through their frequent talks, Louisa learns that Will has travelled extensively; his favourite place is a café in Paris. Noticing how limited her life is and that she has few ambitions, Will tries to motivate Louisa to change.

Louisa continues seeing her longtime boyfriend, Patrick, though they eventually break up due to her relationship with Will. Meanwhile, Louisa's father loses his job, causing more financial difficulties. Fortunately, Mr. Traynor offers Mr. Clark a position. Louisa realises that Will is trying to help her secure her freedom from her family. The two attend Alicia and Rupert's wedding where they dance and flirt. Will tells Louisa that she is the only reason he wakes in the morning.

Louisa convinces Will to go on a holiday with her, but before they can leave, Will contracts near fatal pneumonia. Louisa cancels the plans for a whirlwind trip. Instead, she takes Will to the island of Mauritius. The night before returning home, Louisa tells Will that she loves him. Will says he wants to confide something, but she admits that she already knows about his plans with Dignitas. Will says their time together has been special, but he cannot bear to live in a wheelchair. He will be following through with his plans. Angry and hurt, Louisa storms off and does not speak to him for the remainder of the trip. When they return home, Will's parents are pleasantly surprised by his good physical condition. Louisa, however, resigns as his caretaker, and they understand that Will intends to end his life.

On the night of Will's flight to Switzerland, Louisa visits him one last time. They agree that the past six months have been the best in their lives. He dies shortly after in the clinic, and it is revealed that he left Louisa a considerable inheritance, meant to continue her education and to fully experience life. The novel ends with Louisa at a café in Paris, reading Will's last words to her in a letter, that tell her to 'live well'.

Characters[edit]

  • Louisa (Lou) Clark – a 26-year-old woman who is creative, talented and funny but underestimates herself and has few ambitions. Her life changes when she begins working as a caretaker for a paralysed man. Over time, she learns to harness her capabilities and step out of her limited comfort zone.[3]
  • William (Will) Traynor – a 35-year-old[4] man who became quadriplegic after being hit by a motorbike. He is intelligent and wealthy, but his impairment has left him moody, angry, and bitter. Unable to accept never being the active and adventurous man he once was, he wants to end his life.
  • Camilla Traynor – Will's mother who has a strained relationship with her son. She is severe and strict but she cares about her son's well-being.
  • Steven Traynor – Will's father who was mostly absent from his children's lives; Camilla Traynor blames him for destroying their family. He wants to divorce Camilla.
  • Katrina (Treena) Clark – Louisa's younger sister who is a single mother, who works at flower shop. She has always been regarded as the most intelligent sibling. Even though the sisters have always been competitive, they support each other.
  • Patrick – Louisa's boyfriend who works as a personal trainer. He is obsessed with sports and diet.
  • Nathan – Will's nurse and caretaker who is also his friend.
  • Bernard Clark – Lou's father.
  • Josephine – Lou's mother.
  • Alicia Dewares – Will's ex-girlfriend who marries his colleague, Rupert. She is beautiful and delicate, but lives her life according to the standards of upper society.
  • Georgina Traynor – Will's sister who does not care much about her brother, concerned only about her life and her accomplishments. Georgina feels that Will's mishap should not affect her success.
  • Rupert Freshwell – An old friend of Will's from work. He is married to Alicia.
  • Frank – Louisa's previous employer.
  • Thomas – Louisa's young nephew and the son of her sister Katrina, a single mother.
  • Major Timothy Dewares – Alicia Dewares's father.

Reception[edit]

Reception for Me Before You has been positive and the book was placed on the Richard and Judy Book Club.[5][6] USA Today and the New York Times both praised the work,[7] with the New York Times reviewer commenting that "When I finished this novel, I didn't want to review it; I wanted to reread it."[8]

Disability advocates have criticised the book and film for suggesting that life may not be worth living for some with severe disabilities.[9]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2014 MGM announced it would make a film adaptation of Me Before You, to be directed by Thea Sharrock[10] and released via Warner Bros. The film was initially set to release in August 2015 but was pushed back to 3 June 2016.[11]

Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin portray the main characters, and filming began in the spring of 2015.[12] The film has grossed over $200 million worldwide.

References[edit]

  1. ^ McClurg, Jocelyn. "Moyes writes sequel to 'Me Before You'". USA Today. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "Pamela Dorman Books/Viking to Publish Jojo Moyes' After You, the Sequel to Me Before You". Penguin Books. Retrieved 7 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Schaap, James C. "Me Before You (Book Review)." Pro Rege 42.1 (2013): pp. 32–33
  4. ^ "NY Times Book Review". 4 January 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  5. ^ STEFFENS, DANEET. "Me Before You, By Jojo Moyes". The Independent. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Me Before You (review, book club)". Richard and Judy. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Donahue, Deirdre. "Me Before You (review)". USA Today. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  8. ^ SCHILLINGER, LIESL. "Cost of Care". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  9. ^ 'Me Before You’ Criticized by Advocates Over Portrayal of a Disabled Character, Vikram Murthi, IndieWire, 26 May 2016
  10. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. "Thea Sharrock To Direct 'Me Before You' Movie For MGM". Deadline. 
  11. ^ Busch, Anita. "'Me Before You' Gets Release Date From Warner Bros.". Deadline. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  12. ^ Freeth, Becky. "Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke is almost unrecognisable in a playful dungaree dress as she films Me Before You with hunky counterpart Matthew Lewis". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 

External links[edit]