I did it again. It was around the end of the school year in May. I saw one of my students fully-immersed in the reading of a book during the break and asked: "What is it that you are so eagerly reading?”
Her answer was a big smile and “So beautiful, prof.! You must read it. “ And then she showed me the book cover with the title.
“In English?”
“Yes, it is not out in Italian yet”
“A romance?” I suspected it from the cover and the title.
 Her answer came after a while: “ Not exactly … not only … it’s pretty special”
That  was enough to made me curious. I googled it, saw there was a movie coming soon starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, read the synopsis and … promised myself I was definitely not going to read it! Not another cheesy romance my students loved which was going to make me cry!
But then, while on holiday in Scotland,  I happened  to enter a bookshop with books half-price all over and I came out with not only “Me Before You” but its sequel too! I must be crazy, you say? Must be, since I not only bought those books,  I even read them. Well, worse even: I not only read them but also liked them.
Why did I start this post with "I did it again"? It ‘s not the first time I read books or watch movies recommended by my students and find them not so bad.  Did I say cheesy, somewhere above? Well, it wasn't. It isn't. Aren’t I a lucky teacher? ;-)

Book I -  Me Before You

Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke as Will Traynor and Louisa Clark in the movie adaptation of Me Before You

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now, and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time. (from the book cover)

It was some time I had stayed up all night to finish a book. Actually, I can’t remember when the last time was ...Before Them.
Them! Lou and Will. Lou, Louisa Clark is one of the most lively, most bizarre,and picturesque heroines I have met since Bridget Jones. She has such contagious stamina that I borrowed some and read all through the night to discover whether Will Traynor would benefit of her energy and love for life or not. 

Will lives in a wheelchair. Quadriplegic. It means he is completely dependent on others, since his accident left him paralyzed from his neck down. Lou is hired by his mother to look after him, though she has no qualifications as a caregiver. What convinced stern Mrs Traynor to give Lou the job is the young woman's volcanic personality. Lou's main task will be to cheer Will up and drag him out of his depression.

Both Lou and Will are well-written, relatable, gripping characters and  they stay with you long after you close the book on the last page - sneezing and sobbing your heart out, probably.

It took me barely a couple of days to read the 497 pages of Me Before You. I smiled, giggled, laughed and  cried and, in the end, felt it was worth it.

The story takes the readers on an emotional journey providing  them food for thought as well as lots of  feelings. There is a lot you are left to think about when you discover what awaits you in the finale, such tough, controversial  choices that you pray God you’ll never have to face aything similar. 

More than a love story,  Me Before You is  a story of love. Little romance, no sex, but a great deal of love.  

Book  II – After You

“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future...  
(from the book cover)

Though I really wanted to know and like what was next for lovely Lou, I didn’t expect much from After You. My low expectations were confimed by my disappointment after finishing it . Not that I didn’t like it at all, but I was a bit annoyed by it’s being nothing special. Does that make any sense?

I can understand the reasons why authors decides to write trilogies, sagas, pages and pages featuring the same characters:  it is to try to make them  live on and on and  meet their readers’ wishes and their publishers demands.  Although I do understand,  I can’t accept their choices. In this case, for instance, the first book was quite good as it was, finale included,  and my impression is that a barely satisfactory sequel has somehow deminished it. Can  a  well-written number one best-selling book not have a sequel for once, please?  

Me After ... Book 2!
The Movie

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a best - selling book in possession of a good fame must be in want of a movie adaptation. And one Me Before You has got,  which is a good blend of comedy, drama and romance. 

Jojo Moyes herself wrote the script, supervised the coming to visual life of her creatures and was lucky enough to find Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin to do the job. 
Emilia Clarke's Lou is overwhelmingly funny as well as touching and Sam Claflin does a great job as Will, whose complexity and torment he has to convey completely restricted in movement and only through facial expressions, eyes and voice. 
In the cast several familiar faces form a great ensemble: Brendan Coyle, Samantha Spiro, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Lewis, Vanessa Kirby, Janet McTeer and Charles Dance. 
The acting is good and the movie faithfully follows the events in the book (except for the absence of the character of Georgina, Will's sister, or of references to Lou's trauma due to an incident belonging to her teenage years). 

If anything is lost in the transition, it is that the film lacks the capacity to convey the depth and the many shades of the feelings the protagonists experience. But don't we say that of almost any movie adaptation of books? Pity. 

Me Before You was out in theatres in many countries back in May/June, UK and USA included, and will soon be out on DVD. It  will be available at amazon.com on August 30th and amazon.co.uk on October 10th.


Laura's Reviews said...

Great review! I listened to the audiobook of Me Before You shortly after it came out and loved it. My entire book club loved it as well and it provided great discussion points. After You was not nearly as good. I haven't watched the movie yet - but look forward to it.

Great review - I love how you put the book, 2nd book, and movie all together in a review!

Maria Grazia said...

Thank you, Laura. It's always a pleasure to share with lovely, enthusiastic book lovers like you.