Tag Archives: Jojo Moyes

A List of Fluff to Feel Better

Although heavy tomes can be thought provoking and force analytic thinking in our dusty brains, sometimes a book needs to be a mindless diversion.  When we need an escape from reality, award winning books forcing us to acknowledge the dire consequences of the greenhouse effect or the misery of our fellow man can only drop us deeper into the abyss.  Every now and then, a happy, fluffy, even ridiculous, book is the needed antidote.

images   In the spirit of the list giving season, here are a few authors I turn to for solace, smiles, and silliness:

  • Maria Semple (Today Will Be Different)
  • Sophie Kinsella (Remember Me?)
  • Alan Bradley (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)
  • Sarah Addison Allen (Garden Spells)
  • Jojo Moyes (One Plus One)
  • Mitch Albom (The Time Keeper)
  • Louise Miller (A City Baker’s Guide to Country Living)

What books can you recommend to brighten a day?

 

Jojo Moyes – the Modern O. Henry

9780735221079_p0_v6_s192x300 While reading Jojo Moyes Paris for One and Other Stories, I could not help thinking of William Sidney Porter’s short stories.  Better know as O. Henry, Porter’s romantic tales always ended with a surprise, whether in the selfless romance of The Gift of the Magi or in the story of a sick woman hanging on with The Last Leaf.  In this collection, Moyes offers her wry outlook and, like O.Henry, ends each with a jolt.

The title story, “Paris for One,” is the longest – all 150 pages – and could easily be an hour long Christmas special.  When Nell’s boyfriend is not at the London station, she gets on the train anyway, hoping he is just late for their romantic weekend in Paris. Feeling alone in a strange city, Nell receives his message that he is not coming and decides to return to London. In a series of serendipitous occurrences, the story evolves into Nell’s emergence as a determined woman who finds true love in Paris.  Only Moyes could transform a melodramatic interlude into a funny and heart-warming story, leaving the reader satisfied and smiling at the ending.

The “Other Stories” include brief tales, peeking into the windows of familiar lives: the has-been actor who is being tortured with racy tweets, the frumpy mother who finds a pair of expensive shoes that change her outlook, the taxi driver who gives a harried woman the courage to live her own life, the jewelry store clerk who saves a burglar, the husband who buys his wife a coat they cannot afford, the couple who find their afternoon delight again after years of marriage, the woman who meets her old lover at a party, and the secret communication of a woman with a stranger’s phone.

If you enjoyed Moyes’ novels (see my reviews below), you will be delighted with this collection.  Not all the stories have happy endings but each has the author’s trademark wit and charm.

Reviews of Other Moyes Books:

 

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

9780698152007_p0_v2_s260x420JoJo Moyes’s latest novel  – One Plus One – reminds me of a favorite old movie with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert – “It Happened One Night.”  Two lives intersecting, at first sparring with one another, later joining forces, and eventually romantically intertwined – with a road trip to cement their attraction.  Of course, modern day demands that the sex is more obvious, and the obstacles in Moyes’ book include more than the difference in class.  The tale plummets into despair several times when misfortune seems to keep thwarting the two main characters.  But JoJo Moyes knows how to weave a tale like a roller coaster, and land happily and safely back on the landing.  She has become my go-to author for a satisfying romance adventure that I know will turn out well eventually.

This story has a cast of characters worthy of a soap opera: Jess (Claudette), the feisty housekeeper with a penchant for plumbing, with a sunny disposition despite a litany of woes including a recalcitrant ex-husband who has left her with no money and two children; Ed (Clark Gable), the handsome newly rich geek with a beach house and an expensive flat in London, who inadvertently whispers inside information to a pandering lover to buy her off, and finds himself arrested for insider trading; Tanzie, the little girl math whiz who would rather solve math problems that watch TV; Nicky, the Gothic teenager who wears mascara, does drugs, and begins a blog to find his “tribe.”   Moyes alternates the chapters with the voice of each, as the plot steadily climbs into assorted issues that resolve and dissolve into a happy ending.

“…in a little more than five days…illness, distraught children, sick relatives, unexpected acts of violence, busted feet, police, and car accidents.  I’d say that was quite enough real life for anyone…”

Lots of fun – a great quick read for summer.

 

Looking Forward to Reading in 2014

Finding a favorite author can lead to fervent stalking of their next publication.  Writers do not always churn out stories quickly enough to appease the appetites of their anxious readers, but expectations run high when a new book is coming.  Here are a few I am looking forward to reading in 2014:

From Favorite Authors:

Sarah Addison Allen: Lost Lake  {January}

JoJo Moyes: The One Plus One {February|}

Jeffrey Archer: Be Careful What You Wish For (Clifton Chronicles cont.) – {March}

Emma Donoghue: Frog Music {April}

Harriet Lane (author of Alys Always) – Her   {June}

Deborah Harkness: The Book of Life (continues story of witch Diana Bishop) – {July}

And from a new author:    Vivien Shotwell:  Vienna Nocturne  {February}

Do you have any books on your 2014 reading list?  happy_new_year_background_vector_illustration_267362

Have a Happy New Year of  reading!

The Last Letter from Your Lover

Mad Men making money and depending on trophy wives to entertain and stand decorously and quietly by their sides  – does true love have a chance? Channeling Noel Coward’s “Brief Encounter,” Jojo Moyes affirms that each person has a soul mate – not necessarily a spouse.  In The Last Letter from Your Lover, Moyes carries an intense relationship from the sixties to present day, with so many interruptions and separations, it must be true love.

The dates are important – and Moyes conveniently notes them at the beginning of chapters as she flits back and forth to establish and then flashback on the action.  Jennifer, recovering from a car accident, has no memory but uneasy feelings, as her husband escorts her back to their well-appointed mansion to recover.  Something – or someone – is missing, and she cannot remember – until she accidentally finds a love letter (not written by her husband) addressed to her.

Eventually,  her lover, Anthony (nicknamed Boot) appears, disappears, and then reappears – throughout the story.  Boot is a journalist and knows how to write a good letter.  Moyes repeats them several times in the storyline, and they become the tangible pieces to an ephemeral affair.  Circumstances, fear of losing what they have, and misunderstandings tear them apart again and again.  And just when the story seems over, Moyes jump starts it again with a new catalyst.

One of Boot’s letters reappears forty years letter in the newspaper archives, and Ellie Haworth, a young journalist at the paper – who is struggling with her own relationship with a married man – decides to investigate, with hope of finding a juicy feature story. She finds more letters and a post office box that lead her to Jennifer Sterling and the mysterious author of the letters.

Despite the contrived plot and the shallow characters, the story has the redeeming theme of love conquers all – easy to read once you get the rhythm of the time zones, and Moyes instills enough twists to keep it compelling.  One of those romances, with lovely British phrasing, that is predictable but still pleasurable – book candy.