It’s ages since I read this one, and I’m so thrilled people are now posting reviews because I was bursting to tell you about it! Every now and then, a book comes along that is so absolutely perfect that it stops you in your tracks and you think you’ll never read anything so perfect ever again. This is one of those books. If you thought Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You might have been that book – and I thought the same about Last Letter From Your Lover – you were wrong. This is that book.
The story line is relatively simple. Jess is a struggling single mother, working as a cleaner to support her maths-whiz of a daughter Tanzie and her long gone husband’s teenage son Nicky. She cleans Ed’s house – he’s a self absorbed IT man, who has made some wrong decisions – and one night she helps him home after a drunken night at the pub, and makes some wrong decisions of her own. Her daughter is offered a maths scholarship, but it doesn’t offer enough money to make it possible – until they hear about a maths Olympiad in Scotland offering a £5000 prize. Ed volunteers to take them in his car, and so begins a wonderful road trip of a novel. Oh, and I forgot the dog, Norman – smelly, flatulent, and the size of a small cow.
The characters in this book are magnificent. Jess has a relentless cheerfulness in the face of adversity and a wonderfully chaotic practical streak. Nicky is the teenager who just doesn’t fit in – the goth who is relentlessly bullied and lives his life through the screens of his handheld games. Tanzie has a wonderful maturity and matter-of-fact acceptance of her mathematical genius. Ed starts as unlikeable, but develops wonderfully throughout the book. And I can’t speak highly enough of Norman.
These are all characters you grow to love, aching for them when things go wrong, laughing with them (and the humour in this book is perfectly judged), feeling all the injustices done to them and hoping beyond hope that everything will turn out for them in the end. There are images in this book that will stay with you for ever – but I’m not going to describe a single one, because I want everyone to experience this book without anyone spoiling it for them. I guess the main theme of the book could be said to be the kindness of strangers, but for me it was the power of love to overcome every hurdle (and there are some enormous hurdles) put in your path. I hate writing such a gushing review, but I really can’t help it. Just read the book, and you’ll feel exactly the same – absolute perfection.
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Penguin Books UK for my advance reading e-copy. The One Plus One will be published in all formats on 27th February 2014.
Jojo Moyes has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. She lives on a farm in Essex with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children. She has won the Romantic Novelists’ Award twice, and her book Me Before You gained the highest number of votes ever submitted in the Richard and Judy list.