February 25, 2014

February - Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Last month I called this book a "departure" for us, understanding it to be a weepy love story. But with so many rave reviews, I thought it might be a good choice for a Valentine's Day read. It turns out Me Before You is all of those things: weepy (yes, tears were shed reading this book), a love story (though not at all a traditional love story), and a very good choice for a Valentine's Day read. Also a very good choice of a book club selection - there is so much to discuss in this book.

There were only three of us at the meeting this month but all of us had finished the book so we were able to really fully discuss it. If you have not read it yet, and have plans to, you may not want to read further as our discussion spent a lot of time on spoilers.

We were all impressed with Moyes' writing, particularly how well she developed her characters. The dynamics in both Louisa's and Will's families were very real and the contrast between the two families was well developed.
"The difference between growing up like me and growing up like Will was that he wore his sense of entitlement lightly. I think if you grow up as he had done, with wealthy parents, in a nice house, if you go to good schools and nice restaurants as a matter of course, you probably just have this sense that good things will fall into place, that your position in the world is naturally an elevated one."
We talked about the title of the book - what does it mean "me before you?" Is it about Lou wanting Will to stay alive for her? Is if Will wanting to do things his way regardless of what others feel? There was no clear cut answer to this one. We talked about the pain of being as in love with someone as Lou was with Will and finding that it is not enough, that you are not enough. Did Will's gift to Lou show that he loved her even though he had never told her so or was it just another way for him to continue to push her in the way he felt she should go?
"I told him I loved him," she said, her voice dropping to a whisper. "And he just said it wasn't enough." Her eyes were wide and bleak. "How am I supposed to live with that?"
The majority of our discussion, though, focused on Will's choice to die and how the people around him reacted to it. Lou's mother's reaction, in particular, was interesting to us, both in the way she felt about Will's mother and her refusal to accept Lou's decision to be with Will. She had been something of a mousy character up to that point, so accepting of what life had thrown at her. We each wondered how we would feel if our child made the decision that Will made - would we be able to support him or her no matter how painful it was for us to let our child go?

We also talked about the legal ramifications of assisted suicide and how the complications of making it legal.

Both Ann and Linda had looked up Dignitas and discovered that it is a real facility in Switzerland that provides assisted deaths for terminally-ill people. In the book, Moyes makes the facility sound very lovely and peaceful but Linda and Ann discovered that questions have been raised about their methods and their disposal of remains. That makes the discussion much more complicated, doesn't it?

1 comment:

Melinda said...

Another book I'd love to read!