Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark is a very ordinary girl and she leads a very ordinary life. Lou has a long-time boyfriend, Patrick, and she is part of a very close knit family. After losing her job at a small cafe, she takes a job as daytime caregiver to Will Traynor, ex-Master of the Universe, who becomes wheelchair bound after a tragic accident. Will was always used to a wealthy lifestyle of business, pleasure, and traveling the world.
Since his accident, Will has acquired a dark outlook on the world, unleashing his feelings through rudeness and sarcastic conversation. Despite this, Lou learns more about Will and before she knows it, Will's happiness is everything to her. Louisa finds out that Will has a shocking scheme planned after six months of her working there and she sets out to show Will that there is still so much life that is worth living.
Elements of Women's Lives & Relationships/Women's Fiction:
1. Main character - Our protagonist, Louisa (Lou) Clark, is female, like the author. In women's lit, the protagonist has support from mostly female characters, and sometimes male characters. Louisa lives with her mother, father, granddad, sister, and nephew. She receives influence from all but mostly from her sister, Katrina (sometimes called Treena). Louisa also has support from her long-time boyfriend, Patrick.
2. Mood - Women's literature usually "offers up a generally optimistic outlook", even when the mood of the story is humorous, lighthearted, tragic, or romantic (Saricks, pg. 156). The reader is given a peak into the lives of the main character, thus pulling at the heartstrings of the reader.
3. Pacing - Women's lit is set at a leisurely pace. The reader gets pulled in and as they find out more details and anecdotes about the protagonist, they continue to read and become involved with the story. In the prologue, the reader gets a glimpse into Will Traynor's busy lifestyle, and we see a preview into the tragic accident that changes his life before the prologue ends and we cut to the beginning of chapter one. Once chapter one is started, we get a glimpse into Louisa's life before her path crosses with Will. This definitely got me to want to read more of the book!
4. Storyline - "...Reflect the issues affecting women's lives and portray women facing difficult situations" (Saricks, pg. 156). The story opens with Louisa coming home from work early, and going through her usual routine of asking if her granddad needs anything before helping herself to tea or water. Then, within the first few pages of chapter one, we find out that Louisa has lost her job, files for unemployment, and seeks help through an employment agency to find a new place of work. Mrs. Clark does not work so she can stay home with her ailing father. Mr. Clark works at a furniture factory and is on the night shift. Katrina works at a floral shop and has a son, Thomas, who attends elementary school and is watched by his grandparents after school. The family depends on the wages of Louisa, Katrina, and their father. Katrina mentions going back to university towards the end of chapter three which means that Louisa's wages will have to help the family even more.
5. Setting - The setting of Me Before You is contemporary. Louisa and her family live in a four bedroom house in a small neighborhood on the countryside that is outside of London. Louisa's new employment location is two miles away from her house, Granta House, a small annex turned living space that is on the property of a bigger mansion that belongs to Will Traynor's parents. Women's lit also takes the background of the protagonist into account. Louisa had a job at a cafe and once she learns of its' closing, she takes a few odd jobs before taking the job as Will Traynor's daytime caregiver.
6. Writing style - Me Before You is written with a lot of dialogue between characters, as well as reflection into the protagonist and her thoughts. The author uses some text messaging to show a small, private conversation between Louisa and her sister Katrina, discussing Louisa's new job. Since the setting of the story is in the U.K., the language is different from that of the U.S. For example, instead of saying "claiming unemployment", Louisa says "I made my first claim for Jobseeker's Allowance" (Moyes, pg. 20).
My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Me After You by Jojo Moyes
The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter by J.S. Drangsholt
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
Moyes, J. (2012). Me before you. United Kingdom: Penguin Books.
Saricks, J.G. (2009). The readers' advisory guide to genre fiction: Second edition. Chicago: ALA.