Well, this was a totally unexpected read. After the serious tone of the last few books I had read, I really felt like something somewhat lighter. The one line review at bottom of the cover reads "Gorgeously romantic and partner-ignoringly complusive" (Independent on Sunday). And the reviews on the reverse are all in a similar vein. What's more the author has won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Twice! Excellent I thought, nothing like a bit of chick lit on a sunny summer afternoon.
Not quite as chick litty as I thought, and how many chick lits do you read require a copious number of tissues to soak up the emotion? But, oh, such a good story, and so beautifully (and romantically) told. And what's more - no sex! What's that you say? Modern day romance with no sex? How dull and how weird, what's with that?
There is no sex in this story because the romantic male lead, Will Traynor, is a quadriplegic - wheel chair bound following a horrific accident. How does one go from being a man in charge of his universe - very successful career, wealthy, gorgeous girlfriend, action man - to a man stuck in a chair, unable to do one single thing for himself. With great difficulty, and he really is a mess.
Along comes Louise Clark. Early twenties, lived in same small town all her life, no drive or ambition, bound to her parents and older single parent sister, boring exercise junkie boyfriend, stuck in a huge rut and almost lost the will to live. Out of desperation, Lou is employed by Will's mother to be one of two carers to Will. In true chick lit style, things do not start out at all well between the two of them. Then slowly he begins to thaw and see what a ray of sunshine she really is, how important she is to him and a relationship begins to develop. But this is just the beginning, and as we all know the path of true love never runs smoothly. And that is where I stop on the plot development line, even though there is plenty more to tell.
Narrated primarily by Lou, this is one of the most beautiful love stories you will ever read. Lou and Will dominate the novel, but plenty of attention is given to Lou's family and the dynamics going on there, as well as the relationship Will has with his own family and ex-fiancee. This is such a worthwhile read, and one you will think about for sometime after finishing. And just goes to show, a captivating love story does not need to wade into R18 or above territory to hold the reader's attention.