Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I had heard about Jojo Moyes, but had never read a book by her. I came across this book in the ‘Just Returned’ section in my library and picked it up. Just to give it a try.

MeBeforeYou

Lou Clark finds her self unemployed, with no advance notice, and has no clue what she is supposed to do next. She clings to the familiar. She has lived in the same place all her life, worked in a tea shop, buttering tea cakes, and is suddenly pushed out of her comfort zone, when forced by her lack of skills and jobs, into becoming a carer for Will. A job that she has neither the experience for, nor the interest. The only thing that is attractive is the pay check. Of which she and her family are in dire need of. To add to that, Will is not the easiest patient to take care of.

Will Traynor, is an attractive young man, in his thirties, with his life ahead of him, which looks completely bleak to him after an accident renders him a quadriplegic. His whole world changed in an instant. From an active, interesting life in London, his life is now full of hospital visits, round the clock carers and physiotherapy. He feels low, joyless and knows what exactly he needs to do to change all that.

Until Lou bursts into his life with colour and eccentric tastes, slowly chipping away at his grumpy exterior. The time that they spend together changes things for both of them.  Will, physically trapped in a life that he hates, and Lou, mentally trapped in a life that she has got used to, and refuses to change. So much so that she hangs on with a boy friend who she knows that she does not love.

I wish I could write more but anything more, and I think I would give away the story, and really this is a story you should read blind, without knowing much about the plot. Let me tell you what I liked about the story though. Both Will and Lou are believable characters. You can understand Will’s frustration, being paralysed neck down. His reactions to anyone who tries to help him. You connect with Lou, her whole exuberant personality, her insecurities as well as her single-minded focus when she decides to do something that she feels is important. She is a wonderful character. I loved Lou’s family, cute, and crazy, while being supportive.

So is it a romance? Well, there is romance, but there is so much more. So much more. It addresses a highly controversial topic and deals with it in an extremely sensitive manner. It makes you think, to say the least.

You end up empathizing with every character involved. You can’t help wonder what you would have done as Will, Lou or Will’s mum and dad. Such a tough topic and what I really liked was the way the author has handled it. Sensitively and beautifully.

It is a book that makes you cry, makes you debate with yourself, makes you wish you could magic away such situations with a magic wand. And ultimately, you understand the stance that the different characters take. I am so glad that I picked up this book.

It is an excellent read, but do be prepared to go on an emotional roller coaster. I loved it and would definitely recommend it.

I would rate it a 4.5/5.

About the Author

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist. Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.

This book is available at Amazon and Flipkart.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I often get asked suggestions for Children’s books, and a lot of times, I find it tough to give recommendations! I mean, there are so many to choose from, and sometimes, I forget. And then remember some weeks later that, ‘Oh yes, this would have been a perfect book for that child!’

So to keep me from forgetting, I have decided to review children’s books more often. And I also get to cross-post them on IMC, can’t get better than that, can it 🙂

Matilda

Daughter and I read Matilda together, a couple of years ago. This was one of her first ‘thick’ books and I think she was a little intimidated by the size of it. So I would read it, and leave it at a tantalizing place, and tell her that we would read the rest tomorrow. Now the child engrossed in Matilda’s world would refuse(but, of course) that option, and would beg, ‘Can I please read it myself?’ 🙂 Since then, she has read, reread and re-read them. It never fails to get her to chuckle away. I have to mention here, that I am eternally grateful for the fact that she re-reads her books. There is no way, I would be able to feel her habit, if she didn’t!

Matilda is a very intelligent, very smart little girl, who lives with her mother, father and her older brother. By the age of five and a half she is doing maths and reading books which some grown ups might struggle with. Normally, the parents of a child with such exceptional abilities would be amazed and proud of her, and help her achieve her full potential. Normally, for parents even the most annoying child on earth is the most gifted, most talented, most adorable in their eyes.  Alas, for Matilda, her parents are just the opposite. They are so self obsessed that they can’t see beyond the tip of their noses. They just did not care about Matilda, at all! Not just that, they are rude and beastly to her. She finds a way to pay them back. Every time they are rude or mean to her, she plays pranks on them. Just her way of getting back at her parents who are so mean to her.

Now, Matilda, is not just smart, she is also resourceful. She finds ways of feeding her amazing appetite for knowledge, and soon she is ready for school. Actually more than ready for school, because she knows much more than most children her age, a fact that her parents are blissfully ignorant aboujt. At school, her teacher, Miss Honey is the first grown-up who takes an interest in her, and finds to her amazement, an amazingly talented little girl. Impressed by her knowledge and abilities, Miss Honey, tries to get Matilda into a higher class, more suited to her abilities. She approaches the Head teacher Miss Trunchbull, who, refuses pointblank. Now, Miss Trunchbull is a person who hates children. Most head teachers are selected for understanding children and for having the best of the children’s interest’s at heart. It is a mystery how Miss Trunchbull ever got her job. She is the cruelest person around, and the children live in fear of Miss Trunchbull. Despite Miss Honey’s best efforts, Miss Trunchbull refuses to look at what is best for Matilda. It looks like school is going to be as tough as home for Matilda. The only bright spot in her life is Miss Honey. So how does she fare? Do the evil people around her break her down? You’ve got to read it to find out. But, I can assure you, that you will have a lovely time while you do that.

The book, is definitely one of Roald Dahl’s best books. Such a heart-warming tale of a young girl, living a tough life, and finding a way to come out of it. Dahl takes a tough scenario, and uses it to make it one of the most enchanting stories ever. I’m quite sure that children living sad lives might feel a wee bit empowered reading about Matilda. Even other wise, it is a lovely tale. One that makes you smile and cheer for Matilda as she gets the better of the evil people around her.

A book that both children and grown-ups are sure to enjoy!

I would easily rate it a 5/5.

About the Author

Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer,poet and screenwriter  who rose to prominence in the 1940’s with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world’s bestselling authors. Dahl has created some of the most loved children’s books ever.

This book is available from Amazon and Flipkart.

This has been cross-posted on Indian Moms Connect(IMC). Do hop over and check out the IMC, an amazing place for all things related to parenting.

Grandma’s Bag of Stories by Sudha Murty

I owe Wanderlustathome for this book. She gifted it to daughter, and both of us read it.

grandmasbagofstories

For most of us, grandparents telling us stories during the holidays have a special place in our memories. The warmth of a grandparent, spinning tales that held us rapt. Sudha Murty’s Grandma’s Bag of Stories is just as charming.

Anand, Krishna, Meena and Raghu arrive at their grandparents’ place in Shiggaon. Ajj’si and Ajja’s house was all readied up for their arrival, with Ajji preparing their favourite snacks. The perfect holiday with wonderful food, fun times with the animals in Ajji-Ajja’s house and best of all, the wonderful stories that Ajji told them.  After all, when Grandma opens her bag, everyone gathers around.

From her bag, emerges tales of kings and cheats, monkeys and mice, scorpions and treasure, and princesses and onions. Unlikely combinations, one might think, but when Grandma is the one telling them, they are just perfect! The book is great for young children to be read to, and for older children(5+, perhaps) to read for themselves. I particularly loved it, because the whole setting took me back to my childhood. The school holidays when we would all travel to our grandparents and had this wonderful time with our cousins.

Daughter loved the stories too. Living abroad, I felt that this was a nice book of stories which helped her connect to India a tiny bit more, reliving her own experiences of hearing stories from her granddad, her favourite part of holidays. Needless to say that it was a book that both of us enjoyed – thoroughly! I haven’t read any of Sudha Murty’s other books, but am certainly looking forward to picking up some more of hers, particularly the children’s ones.

A beautifully written book, which can be enjoyed by children and grown-ups alike. I would rate it a 5/5.

About the Author

Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science, and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children.

This has been cross-posted on Indian Moms Connect(IMC). Do hop over and check out the IMC, an amazing place for all things related to parenting.

Shakespeare’s Mistress by Karen Harper

This was originally published as Mistress Shakespeare. The edition I picked up was titled Shakespeare’s Mistress.  During Shakespeare’s times, the word Mistress was meant to mean Mrs.

shakespeare's mistress

I seem to be going through an Elizabethan phase, I’ve been picking up so many books from this era.

The fact that Shakespeare had married Anne Hathaway is a well known fact. What is not so well-known is that there is two days before Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, there exists a permission for him to marry Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, a place close to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Two days later, some family friends of Anne Hathaway seem to have placed a bond for Shakespeare to marry Anne Hathaway Scholars have generally dismissed it as a clerical error but what if it weren’t? What if, Anne Whateley was a real person. What if, she was in reality Shakespeare’s muse and secret love. The person he wrote those sonnets for. What if Shakespeare was forced to marry Anne Hathaway because she became pregnant, while being in love with someone else all through?

Karen Harper uses that bit of fact and weaves a story around it. The story is told by Anne Whateley, from the time they met, as children to the time of Shakespeare’s death. It’s a believable tale. One can imagine how things happened, and how their love stood the test of time. Harper’s words transport you into that time. You are right there, with Anne as she tests her boundaries, takes up challenges and lives her life on her own terms. Anne Whateley comes across as a strong person, although it does make you wonder why she accepts the her role in Shakespeare’s life.  All she really wanted was to be known as Mistress Shakespeare, but all her life, she hides away, in London, supporting Shakespeare in any way she can, all the while, knowing that for the world, Mistress Shakespeare is another Anne, in Stratford.

Another book where it is difficult to figure out where the fact ends and fiction begins. Harper has taken facts and beautifully interwoven them with fiction. She has also, very clearly, used pieces from Shakespeare’s plays in the book, so very naturally, that it looks entirely possible that Anne Whateley was indeed the person, that Harper has built up for us. It had me turning to Google to find out more. A book that makes you wonder if the historians have actually missed something that was staring at their faces.

A wonderful read, if you like historical fiction.

I give it a 4/5.

About the Author

Karen Harper is a is a former college English instructor (The Ohio State University) and high school literature and writing teacher. Karen loves the British Isles, where her Scottish and English roots run deep, and where she has set many of her historical Tudor-era mysteries and her historical novels about real and dynamic British women. Karen’s books have been published in many foreign languages and she won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for 2005.

This book is available at Amazon and Flipkart(India).