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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Mr Darcy In A Wheelchair

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Will is successful, wealthy, clever and handsome. He's also been left quardraplegic by a motorcycle accident. Lou is a bright chronically under-achieving young woman who has lost her job as a waitress and whose only other employment opportunity is a job as Will's carer. What Lou doesn't know, however, is that Will has made up his mind to travel to Geneva to commit suicide. He's given his family just six months before he carries out his decision. Their secret hope when they offer her the job is that she might somehow manage to change his mind.

Caring for Will is difficult. He's bitter, sarcastic and unappreciative but gradually Lou begins to break through his defensive walls. Then she finds out the hidden agenda. Appalled, she wants to quit but she is persuaded to stay and commits herself to the task of changing Will's mind. It's a job that takes everything she can throw at it and in the process she finds herself not only growing as a person but also falling in love with Will.

On the surface the premise of this story looks contemporary but there's actually something distinctly old-fashioned about it. I was reminded of those post-war films in which nurses fall in love with the wounded service men in their charge. This book is not as sentimental as that but it's very, very girly all the same.

Jojo Moyes is skilful writer and a great story teller. I simply had reservations about the very deliberate ordinariness of Lou and her family. I felt like the book was too obviously pitched at its target audience (which probably doesn't include me). It's a good read, quite compelling once the story really gets going (I found myself walking around reading it while trying to do other things) but it still felt like Mr Darcy in a wheelchair with a more realistic ending.