We can’t always judge a book by its cover, but when we do, it’s more likely that we are actually guessing a publishers intention, as they surely are well aware of the stereotypes they buy into when choosing one cover over another.
It’s something I discussed in the review of Elif Shafak’s Honour, a book I was put off reading initially and then tempted again when I saw the US cover. You only have to put a number of books of the same genre together side by side to witness a flash of recognition that it is a certain type of book or genre.
The UK cover of Me Before You suggests to me popular, light fiction, something I generally only turn to on holiday or when unable to find my reading mojo. Otherwise my reading inclination steers me towards something that might offer a unique use of language, new words, creative metaphor, unique structure, insight into a foreign culture or hopefully, evoking that elusive transporting magical sense, something not easy to describe but utter bliss to experience.
So what about the US cover? I think it suggests that readers are already familiar with the author, it’s a bold confident move to use only text.
Maya Angelou’s recent autobiography that I read earlier this month Mom & Me & Mom had a similar text only cover (US version), and one can understand why she is beyond needing to lure readers through an enticing cover. Does this suggest that Jojo Moyes is more of a household name in the US perhaps?
Ultimately I chose to read Me Before You in order not to read too narrowly and because I am sure there will be many people who will be interested to learn more about this much talked about gripping novel.
Lou has worked in the same job for six years serving locals in a café and is more than content with her small life and daily ritual. Things change when her boss closes the café and moves away. Unable to find a suitable job she settles for a six month contract as a companion to Will, a 35-year-old quadriplegic with a number of issues since his accident almost two years previously.
Lou and Will are people who paths would not normally have crossed had they not reached such turning points in their lives concurrently and the six months they spend in each other’s company will allow them both to experience something unique and life-affirming. Well almost.
“Don’t you think it’s actually harder for you…to adapt, I mean? Because you’ve done all that stuff?
“Are you asking me if I wish I’d never done it?
“I’m just wondering if it would have been easier for you. If you’d led a smaller life. To live like this, I mean.”
“I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, if you’re stuck in one of these, all you have are the places in your memory that you can go to.”
It is difficult to say much about the plot without giving it away, however it is unputdownable read once started, both characters are in some way stuck and need something or someone in their lives to move them on from where they are currently.
Will’s issues are clear, though he is a stubborn, somewhat arrogant patient and Lou seems only to be sticking it out because she has to work to support her parents (her Dad has lost his job), her younger sister has a young child out of wedlock and the alternative employment for Lou would have been in some kind of vile chicken factory. Meanwhile her ever distant boyfriend of six years has become obsessed with training for the Xtreme Viking triathlon and shows signs of becoming jealous of a quadriplegic.
If you’ve seen the excellent French film Intouchables which was a worldwide hit in 2012, knocking the popular Amelie off its pedestal for most successful French film, and is now to be remade in Hollywood (not enough Americans saw the subtitled version, the US accountable for only $13 million of the $440 million it has made so far) then you may also enjoy Me Before You.
And if you haven’t seen Intouchables, based on a true story, then make sure you see it in the original French version, before it gets done over Hollywood style! It’s brilliant.
The Intouchables – click to watch the trailer (make link)
Me Before You Giveaway – click to enter the giveaway (US residents only)
Note: This book was an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) provided by the publisher via NetGalley.