Jojo Moyes

All posts tagged Jojo Moyes

The Last Letter From Your Lover – Jojo Moyes

Published September 12, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A sophisticated, page-turning double love story spanning forty years-an unforgettable Brief Encounter for our times. 

It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply “B”, asking her to leave her husband.

Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper’s archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie’s search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.

A spellbinding, intoxicating love story with a knockout ending, The Last Letter from Your Lover will appeal to the readers who have made One Day and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society bestsellers.

What did I think?:

In my quest to read everything on one of my favourite authors back-list of works, The Last Letter From Your Lover was next on my agenda and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I had heard that this novel was slightly more romance based than her previous novels and I’ve got to admit, I do tend to be a bit cynical of these kind of books. The romance aspect has to be done “just right,” for me and I find that it’s often a fine line between melting this cold heart of mine or just making me feel slightly sick. Jojo Moyes is one of those magical authors that gets it right every single time and I find her characters so warm and easy to relate to whilst managing to tug a little on my heart-strings, the latter of which is quite difficult to do, believe me!

Like many of her previous novels, the author uses two different time-lines to form a compelling and beautiful narrative. The first (and my favourite) is set in the early sixties and follows our protagonist, Jennifer Stirling who wakes up in hospital after a car accident with amnesia. She can’t even recollect her husband, friends or household staff at first and finds it very difficult to adjust when so many of her memories have completely disappeared. Then she finds a letter addressed to her which begs her to leave her husband, signed only with the letter B. We follow her story as she desperately attempts to recover her memory and piece together the puzzle of firstly, who B is and why it is imperative that she should break up her marriage. The second story is set in the present day and follows another young woman, Ellie who finds the old letters from B in a library and sets on her own mission to learn the story behind the doomed lovers, hoping that it will bring happiness into her own life as a result.

I adore how effective Jojo Moyes is in using dual perspectives and time-lines to tell a story. I have to be honest and say I wasn’t as keen on Ellie’s story although I appreciated why it was important to the novel. However, Jennifer’s story completely grabbed my attention and it was almost with bated breath I would wait for her section to roll around again, just so I could find out what was happening in her life. The love story between Jennifer and B is so touching and I was incredibly moved by her plight, the situation she found herself in post accident and how she managed to build herself up and start demanding answers from her to be frank, poor excuse for a husband. If I had to compare it with some of the authors previous books, I think it stands perfectly as one of her most poignant narratives and by the end, I was just rooting for Jennifer, for B and for everyone to get that wonderful happy ending. As for my rating, the only reason I’ve taken half a star off is that Ellie’s story didn’t compel me as much as I would have hoped – for Jennifer’s story alone, this novel is a solid four stars.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: Me Before You – coming soon!

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The Horse Dancer – Jojo Moyes

Published January 3, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Sarah’s grandfather was a horseman of rare talent – only the exceptional are allowed into France’s elite riding academy, Le Cadre Noir. But life took an unexpected turn, and now from a council estate in east London, the Captain hopes to train his granddaughter towards a better life.
Natasha is a lawyer whose job is to represent the best interests of children. Her confidence in her judgement has been shaken and her marriage has died – but an encounter with Sarah may lead to Natasha learning all she needs to know about life from a fourteen-year-old girl and a large horse named Boo.

What did I think?:

In my quest to read one of my favourite authors back catalogue, The Horse Dancer was next on the list and, I have to be honest, was a book I was quite wary about reading. I’m not really a “horsey” kind of girl although I love animals but rest assured, you don’t have to know a whole lot about horses to appreciate this lovely, uplifting novel. As with many of Jojo’s books we have two stories running concurrently and we hear the points of view of many of the main characters alternately. The first story is about Natasha and her soon to be ex-husband Mac. They are in the process of getting a divorce and are attempting to sort out their house and other financial issues when their paths cross with Sarah.

Sarah is a fourteen year old girl who has two major loves in her life. The first is her beloved grandfather, Henri whom she lives with and at one time was a professional rider for the prestigious Le Cadre Noir, a French dressage academy but he gave it all up to come to England to marry the love of his life. Sarah’s second love is her horse Boo who she spends all of her available time with at his stables, owned by one of her grandfather’s oldest friends, Cowboy John. Her dream is to follow in the grandfather’s footsteps and ride with Le Cadre Noir in Saumur but when something terrible happens to Henri she is thrust into a catastrophic situation that is not only dangerous for her but may lead to her losing her best friend Boo forever.

That’s all I really want to say about the plot but believe me, there are so many twists and turns to this narrative that I was compelled to keep reading page after page, desperate to find out what happened to Sarah and Boo. Sarah is a beautifully drawn character that I instantly felt so much for, especially when her situation in life becomes so dire that she is forced into making drastic and potentially life-altering decisions. I did enjoy the story of Natasha and Mac but it only started getting really interesting when Sarah entered their lives. Natasha presents as quite a cold person in contrast to her happy-go-lucky, easy-going ex-husband but I think she was the one character of the novel that underwent the most change and it was a fascinating journey to experience for me as a reader. There are also some action-packed, heart-stopping sequences I wasn’t expecting which involve a horse ride/chase through central London that may not be entirely believable to some readers but which I loved. I certainly didn’t anticipate enjoying this novel as much as I did and I think fans of Jojo Moyes work will feel the same. If you’re one of those “horsey” girls I mentioned earlier? Well, there’s a real treat in store for you!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: The Last Letter From Your Lover – coming soon!

cadre-noir-de-saumur-cabriole

Le Cadre Noir de Saumur – c’est magnifique!

Image from: http://www.lacavalieremasquee.com/le-cadre-noir-de-saumur/

Night Music – Jojo Moyes

Published September 8, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Spanish House is known to locals as an architectural folly, and it is now nearly derelict to boot. When its reclusive owner dies intestate the Spanish House is left to his city-dwelling niece. For the recently-widowed Isabel, the house is a potential lifeline. For her neighbour Matt McCarthy, the house is revenge.

What did I think?:

A while ago I set myself the challenge to read all of Jojo Moyes back catalogue after reading such gems such as Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind. Night Music is the next on my list and was first published in 2008. Unlike a lot of Moyes’ work, it does not have both a contemporary and a historical section but has a multitude of characters to get to grips with and, as always, I found the characterisation to be near perfect. As the novel opens, we are introduced to Laura and Matt McCarthy who have looked after their elderly, very obnoxious and ungrateful neighbour for a while now, not out of the kindness of their hearts but in the hope that when he dies, he will leave them his house – “The Spanish House,” in his will. Instead of this happening however to their disgust and bitter disappointment when he passes away the house is bequeathed to his grand-niece Isabel Delancey who is living in London with her two children.

The house couldn’t have come at a better time for Isabel. Recently widowed after her husband died in a horrific car accident, Isabel has really been struggling. She lives, breathes and speaks music and is an accomplished professional violin player which sees her travelling round the world. Her husband had always dealt with the financial side of things and the children were looked after by a nanny so when he dies her world all but implodes. Her daughter Kitty has had to grow up very quickly frantically trying to manage the bills that her mother cannot cope with and her poor younger brother Thierry has not spoken a word since his father’s death. She finally makes her mother pull her head from the sand and face facts in that they cannot afford the lifestyle that Isabel has become accustomed to. Luckily, at this point, the family are thrown a lifeline in The Spanish House and they immediately up sticks and move to the country and try and settle into the difference that living in a small village community offers.

There is no way that things are going to be easy for them though. First of all, the house is a complete mess, almost as if it is falling apart from the inside outwards and as I’m sure you can imagine, Isabel is no Miss DIY! Step forward Matt McCarthy, her knight in shining armour/builder extraordinaire. Or is he? Yes, this is the same Matt who desperately wants The Spanish House for himself and although he is instantly attracted to Isabel he is determined to sabotage the house (literally, with shoddy worksmanship) while charging her extortionate amounts for the privilege. And of course Isabel is so incredibly gullible and naive with things like this so she doesn’t see what’s happening right under her nose. As Matt attempts to drive Isabel and her family away from The Spanish House things begin to unravel very quickly and soon result in a dangerous obsession. Step forward Isabel’s (actual?) knight in shining armour, Byron Firth who works for Matt but knows exactly what kind of man he is and attempts to help Isabel through the mess she finds herself in. On a side note, many thanks to the author for giving me a fit of giggles when Byron Firth emerges all wet and dripping from a lake – wonder where her inspiration for that scene lay?!

I have to be honest and say this isn’t my favourite from Jojo Moyes work but it’s definitely worth the read. Other reviewers have mentioned that they didn’t really see the point in the Laura/Matt “story on the side,” but for me, I found it a nice addition. Matt is an awful character and has cheated on his wife multiple times yet she continues to stay with him. I found myself almost pulling my hair out in frustration with her merely accepting his behaviour and thought their toxic marriage brought a sinister edge to the novel, something I’ve never seen before in a Jojo Moyes book. Isabel frustrated me too but in different ways and I ended up feeling differently towards the end of the novel. At the beginning, she appears to put her music before her family, sticks her head in the sand when faced with problems and is so incredibly gullible and naive it made me want to scream! Losing her husband and having to confront her problems made her grow up immensely and let her prove a better mother to her children as a result. If there was one character I didn’t really connect with it was Byron Firth (despite the wet shirt scene) who didn’t seem as “fleshed out,” as her other characters and I felt he had real potential to be more interesting. Apart from this, Night Music is a great read. I think Moyes’ fans will lap it up and it will hopefully bring a lot more new readers to her fan base.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT JOJO MOYES BOOK: The Horse Whisperer, coming soon!

 

Honeymoon In Paris – Jojo Moyes

Published February 18, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

At the heart of Jojo Moyes’ heartbreaking new novel, The Girl You Left Behind, are two haunting love stories – that of Sophie and Edouard Lefevre in France during the First World War, and, nearly a century later, Liv Halston and her husband David.

Honeymoon in Paris takes place several years before the events to come in The Girl You Left Behind when both couples have just married. Sophie, a provincial girl, is swept up in the glamour of Belle Epoque Paris but discovers that loving a feted artist like Edouard brings undreamt of complications. Following in Sophie’s footsteps a hundred years later, Liv, after a whirlwind romance, finds her Parisian honeymoon is not quite the romantic getaway she had been hoping for…

This enthralling self-contained story will have you falling in love with Liv and Sophie, and with Paris then and now, and it is the perfect appetizer for the The Girl You Left Behind, a spellbinding story of love, devotion and passion in the hardest of times.

What did I think?:

Honeymoon in Paris is a novella meant as a sort of prequel to the author’s book The Girl You Left Behind. Within it Jojo Moyes uses different chapters to narrate two love stories of women on their honeymoon to set the scene of two different time periods which provides a heart-warming and somewhat comforting read. The first story is that of Olivia (Liv) Halston in the present time (2002) and her new husband David, a much in demand architect. A bit too in demand, in fact as we find out when we meet Liv at the top of the Eiffel Tower, on her honeymoon but very much on her own. It turns out that one of David’s big jobs which involves commissioning a home for the rich Goldstein family means that he has to leave her to her own devices to attend important meetings. Liv is understandably crushed and starts to worry that perhaps she has made a mistake in marrying him. She is well-known by her friends to be impulsive and only knew David for three months before he proposed, a sum total of six months now they are married.

Chapter Two and we switch to our second love story in Paris, 1912 where former shop girl Sophie and acclaimed but small artist Edouard Lefevre have recently wed and are the picture of wedded bliss. Most days they don’t know where their next meal is coming from if Edouard hasn’t managed to sell a painting but they are both incredibly happy. It probably doesn’t help that Edouard is a generous man and Sophie finds that a few of his so-called “friends” who have bought paintings from him are in debt to him for as long as seven months. When Sophie discovers a couple of his friends in a bar with exceedingly fat wallets she takes it upon herself to be debt collector for her husband. A fight breaks out when one of the men insults Sophie and Edouard hears it but she manages to get the money and they have a wonderful meal that evening. Things don’t stay too rosy in Paris-dise however when Sophie is introduced to some of the girls that Edouard has painted. According to one particular venomous woman, who still holds a bit of a candle for Edouard, he is “a man of certain appetites,” (ooh, my!) who slept with all the women he painted, and this honeymoon period he has with Sophie is just a phase, he will return to his old behaviour, guaranteed. Sophie is obviously distraught with this woman’s claims and confronts Edouard with his past.

The two stories do end with a happy resolution, I have to say as this is only a prequel to the story that comes in The Girl You Left Behind which also follows the two couples. I think the author does a great job of telling two very different love stories set in different time periods. Personally, I preferred Sophie and Edouard’s story as I just fell in love with their characters, especially Sophie who seemed a bit more fiesty than our current day heroine, Liv. I also enjoyed the tiny cross-over in one chapter where Liv sees a painting in a gallery by our war-time hero of the past, Edouard Lefevre. I think it was also a nice way of explaining that marriage and a relationship isn’t all about the honeymoon period, it requires work and disagreements are inevitable, despite the intense love you may have for someone. I have to admit it wasn’t my favourite of Jojo Moyes work, but I do highly recommend The Girl You Left Behind as a beautiful, must-read novel. This is a nice little prequel that gives you a great introduction to the characters but isn’t a necessary read if you haven’t read the novel and can also be read quite easily as a stand alone.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: Night Music, coming soon!

Silver Bay – Jojo Moyes

Published January 16, 2015 by bibliobeth

Silver Bay

What’s it all about?:

When Mike Dormer heads out from London to a small seaside town in Australia to kick-start a hotel development, he expects just another deal. But Silver Bay is not just any seaside town, and the inhabitants of the eccentric ramshackle Silver Bay Hotel – the enigmatic skipper Liza McCullen, her ten-year-old daughter, and her legendary shark-catching aunt Kathleen, as well as the crews of the local whale-watching boats – swiftly begin to temper his own shark-like tendencies. He is left wondering who really has the greater right to the bay’s waters. As the development begins to take on a momentum of its own, and the effect on the whales that migrate past the bay begins to reveal itself, Mike’s and Liza’s worlds collide, with dramatic results. New, unforeseen hazards emerge to confront both the creatures and the McCullen women. How close can you get, before you end up destroying what you love?

What did I think?:

I’m setting myself a bit of a challenge by reading the back catalogue of some of my now favourite authors, Jojo Moyes being one of them after I fell in love with her (not literally) when reading the wonderful Me Before You. Silver Bay is a beautiful, thought-provoking story involving whales, family/old traditions, gut-clenching life-changing decisions and of course, love. The novel kicks off by introducing our main character, Mike Dormer who works for a developer in London. He is incredibly ambitious and hopes to rise further in the company which shouldn’t be a problem as he is engaged to the manager’s daughter! The relationship is a tad shaky on Mike’s side however, he appears to be a bit of a commitment phobic and enjoys secret trysts with the secretary from time to time. His new project is to work on developing a major leisure complex in a tiny town in Australia called Silver Bay. His boss makes no secret of the fact that his future in the company is 100 percent secured if he manages to clinch this deal but first he has to go over there and scope out the possibilities.

The other characters in this novel are based in Silver Bay, a beautiful and remote area that relies on the whale and dolphin watching expeditions it offers to attract the tourists. Kathleen, who runs the local inn and less visited museum is somewhat of a local celebrity, known as “shark girl,” for catching the largest shark on record at that time. Her niece, Liza who is a single mother to Hanna, runs the whale and dolphin tours. One of the other threads of this story is the secrets that this family seems to harbour. Liza and her daughter arrived from London some years back to stay with Kathleen after something terrible happened. What exactly, the reader has to wait to find out but Liza has become very introverted, deeply unhappy and ridiculously overprotective of Hanna as a consequence. The only pleasure she gets from life is out on the ocean with the whales and it appears to be the only time when she is at peace.

When Mike arrives at Silver Bay, he decides it is indeed the perfect spot for development and sets the ball rolling back in London, not thinking about the effect a re-development of the area will have on Kathleen and her inn, Liza’s business or indeed the wildlife in the surroundings. Well, maybe he has some idea as he chooses to keep schtum about all these things, leading the women to believe he is a regular English tourist out to see some whales. As he spends more time with the family however, he starts to understand a few things about nature, about life and about love. This puts him in quite a precarious position though as not only are the wheels already in motion on the project, he could lose everything he has every worked for if he brings it to a halt (even if he could).

This is another beautiful story by Jojo Moyes and I’m really starting to congratulate myself on rummaging through her back catalogue as there are definitely some hidden gems. I’m a big fan of anything nature-related as well and have had the pleasure of swimming with dolphins so that gets another thumbs up from me, especially when it’s told in such a sensitive and intelligent manner. The characters, as always, are intriguing and occasionally infuriating, in a way that makes the reader just want to know more and I loved that it was told from multiple points of view so you got an insight into each individuals mind and emotions. I wasn’t very enamoured with Mike to be honest when the story first began, but his character went on such a journey I may have warmed to him slightly… There’s love triangles, secrets, tragedy, old love, young love, love “just for the sake of it” love and moments of pure heart-break that made this novel such a joy to read. Jojo Moyes, I salute you. You’ve done it again.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: Honeymoon in Paris – coming soon!

The Ship Of Brides – Jojo Moyes

Published September 11, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime – and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honour, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.

What did I think?:

On my quest to read the entire back catalogue of one of my favourite authors, Jojo Moyes, I came across this little gem, The Ship Of Brides which is set immediately after the end of the Second World War. The majority of the story is set on-board HMS Victoria, a Royal Navy aircraft carrier due to be retired soon after its final journey which attempts to take hundreds of brides from Australia back to England to meet up with the husbands they married during the war. Many of these women have not seen their husbands for months, have never met their families, in fact, some barely know them at all! Still, they left their own family not knowing when or if they would see them again, to undergo a voyage at sea for many weeks to (hopefully) meet up with their spouses. (That is, if they didn’t receive the dreaded telegram whilst on-board – “Not wanted, do not come.”) which happened more regularly than you would expect. I have a bit of giddy love for stories set within war-time so I sensed I was going to enjoy this book but what I didn’t realise that it was based on an actual voyage on HMS Victorious with memories taken from the authors own grandmother. This, along with the journal entries/notes that began each chapter being from genuine passengers on the above mentioned voyage, only add more authenticity to an already compelling story.

There are a range of juicy characters for the reader to get their teeth into, the four main ones are brides on the crossing. There is Margaret, heavily pregnant and desperate for the voyage to be over so that she can get stuck into her new family life with her new arrival in earnest. Margaret was raised on an Australian farm, so we get a no-nonsense, no frills, airs or graces but warm and generous woman who is fiercely loyal to those that she be-friends on the journey. Then there is the other side of the coin, so as to speak with wealthy Avice, quick to look down her nose and sneer at others, the mysterious Frances, a former nurse who has more than one skeleton in her closet and appears cold and unyielding and sixteen year old Jean, young, slightly foolhardy, up for a good time (especially with all the MEN on board, oh my goodness!). These four ladies are forced to room together which leads to unlikely friendships, secrets, tragedy and some good old fashioned bonding as they learn that there’s nowhere to run and definitely nowhere to hide whilst at sea. A couple of intriguing male characters are thrown into the soup – a Marine who stands guard outside the ladies door with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and a lot of sadness in his life. This is much the same for the Captain of the ship who harnesses a terrible guilt about a previous voyage when something went badly wrong.

As we follow the brides through their voyage we get a mixture of just about everything to delight the reader, high drama and tension, tragedy, death, a sprinkle of romance and even a lovely legs competition. Well… there’s not much else to do at sea, is there? I loved watching the characters grow throughout the journey as they begin to bond and help each other through tough times while preparing themselves for the unknown which lies ahead. The author has a wonderful way of making you feel something for every character, no matter how horrid and I really enjoyed the little surprises around each corner which I never seemed to anticipate. As a war-time novel, it’s a fantastic piece of fiction with those lovely elements of potential truth attached knowing that a similar voyage actually happened.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT JOJO MOYES READ: Silver Bay coming soon!

WWW Wednesday #49

Published July 16, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

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This is the second book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series and I’ve been meaning to get to this book for so long. I know some of you have really enjoyed it so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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I’m not really sure what I expected from this book but it certainly wasn’t what I expected. I’m reviewing this book with my blogger friend Luna’s Little Library so look out for our review coming your way on Friday.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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Jojo Moyes is one of my favourite authors and I’m slowly making my way through her back catalogue. This is one of her older books, first published in 2005 and I’m really looking forward to it.

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone!