Jojo Moyes is a British novelist who studied at Royal Holloway, University of London and is married to journalist Charles Arthur with three children. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City, University of London and then worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full-time novelist. In 2004 her novel Foreign Fruit won Romantic Novels’ Associations Romantic Novel of the Year. Moyes’ other books include The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Paris for One, The Ship of Brides, Silver Bay, Honeymoon in Paris, After You and Sheltering Rain. Perhaps her most well-known work is Me Before You, a book turned film in the summer of 2016.
In this month’s review I’m going to discuss one of her lighter novels, the 2014 novel One Plus One. The plot itself might intrigue you. Imagine your life sucks – a lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell. That is until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armour offers to rescue them. Only he turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages… maybe ever. This is a story about money, maths and emotional and amusing mishaps along the way.
As you can see, the story itself sounds quite intriguing, but what stood out to me with this book is the characters and the situations they find themselves in during this journey. There’s Jess, a woman trying to take care of two step-kids the best she can with no money to spare all on her own, who uses every resource available to her and sometimes does something a little crazy for those she loves because good things come to good people right? Then there’s her teenage step-son Nick, a guy who wears eye liner, has dyed black hair and shuts himself up inside, only communicating to people online because the people IRL are bullies. Tanzia is Jess’s step-daughter, a young girl bright beyond her years, who must use every ounce of her mathematical knowledge to reach her dream school. Let’s not forget her loveable but large dog Norman. Last but not least is Ed, who does something stupid to end a relationship that creates more problems than solutions. Moyes allows us to explore this everlasting car journey from each of their point of views, getting to know them as people, all trying to do what’s right with what they’ve got. They also provide some memorable moments like stuffing their clothes with food from a breakfast buffet to get their money’s worth, a dodgy kebab incident. We learn that money means different things to those who have it and those who don’t. There is some fun with Facebook and we learn that although things look bad in the moment, good things do happen, you just have to get through the bad stuff before you meet good people in your life. Overall Moyes’ One Plus One will have you laugh, cry and smile throughout the events of an unforgettable journey.