I should have more carefully considered all the warnings I heard. “I cried so hard! But it was worth it,” one said. “Don’t read it at work. Or without tissues. LOTS of tissues.” “A tearjerker.” But because every warning contained some variation of “the journey was well-worth the soggy hankies” I thought I would be okay. Well, okay, yes I’d probably be a wreck at the end…but they said I would be glad I hung in there. The more reviews I heard that said that, the more impatient I was whether they were right. So I went out this weekend and bought the hardcover.
An entire hour. The last 50 pages took an hour to read because I had to keep stopping to wipe my eyes and blow my nose. Then I kept crying as I puttered around the house doing…things. I don’t know what things because I was still kind of a wreck. But things were done.
Was it worth it? The book was certainly very well written. The prose wasn’t lyrical, and the plot might be well-worn (unlikely duo meet and fall in love, then crisis strikes, blah blah), but it was done in such a way that it all felt compulsively readable. Louisa Clark, our gal Friday, was a likeable Bridget Jones; a twenty-something EveryWoman with fantastic off-the-wall fashion sense. You want to root for Clark, and because you get so invested – or at least, I did – you can’t wait to see what happens next. Because there are so many little mini-battles and reveals in the story, you just want to read one more little bit before you put it down. And then one more… and one more.
Was some of it trite? You betcha. I cringed every time Louisa’s extended fam was in the picture. They were overly caricatured, painfully so. Sure, it was done so we’d sympathize more with Clark and hope she’d get the hell out of her teeny tiny life. Similarly, as much as I wanted Clark to have an easy out with her arse of a boyfriend, I cheered when Moyes’ gave him the apology dinner scene. Hooray for complicated characters, I thought! Of course, that didn’t last even a dozen pages.
But if Moyes’ took an easy out when it came to supporting characters, it was to save the best of herself to fleshing out the nuanced arguments for and against euthanasia. I thought her treatment of the subject was fair and balanced between so many viewpoints and emotional arguments. She never got preachy. She never said one way was right and another wrong. I couldn’t even tell which way Moyes’ herself leaned, whether she was in agreement with how the book actually ended, or whether her characters and the flow of the story demanded that particular ending. I can tell you that I disagreed with how things turned out and still didn’t think the book was preachy; if that’s not a sign of good, balanced writing, then I don’t know.
If you’re looking for a smarter-than-average love story and a discussion of life, living, choices, and selfishness, AND you don’t mind bawling until your eyes swell shut at the end, then this is a book I can almost guarantee you’ll binge on. You’ll gulp this book down and star it as best of the month. …But I have to tell you – they really aren’t kidding about that killer ending. You think you’re braced for it… and then wham. You’re wondering why you read at all. Or fall in love. Or wear mascara when you knew it was going to be a sob story. Le sigh.
5 of 5 stars.