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Praise for Me Before You
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
TO CHARLES, WITH LOVE
Thank you to my agent, Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown, and to my editor at Penguin UK, Mari Evans, both of whom immediately saw this book for what it was—a love story.
Special thanks to Maddy Wickham, who encouraged me at a point when I was not sure whether I could, or should, actually write it.
At Penguin USA, I would like to thank my fantastic editors Pamela Dorman and Julie Miesionczek, as well as Clare Ferraro, president of Viking, who has been such a strong supporter of this book. At Penguin UK, I would also particularly like to thank Louise Moore, Clare Ledingham, and Shân Morley Jones.
Thanks to the wonderful team at Curtis Brown, especially Jonny Geller, Tally Garner, Katie McGowan, Alice Lutyens, and Sarah Lewis, for enthusiasm and fine agenting.
Huge gratitude to all on the Writersblock board—my own private Fight Club. Minus the Fighty bit.
Similarly to India Knight, Sam Baker, Emma Beddington, Trish Deseine, Alex Heminsley, Jess Ruston, Sali Hughes, Tara Manning, and Fanny Blake.
Thanks to Lizzie and Brian Sanders, and to Jim, Bea, and Clemmie Moyes. But most of all, as ever, to Charles, Saskia, Harry, and Lockie.
Table of Contents
When he emerges from the bathroom she is awake, propped up against the pillows and flicking through the travel brochures that were beside his bed. She is wearing one of his T-shirts, and her long hair is tousled in a way that prompts reflexive thoughts of the previous night. He stands there, enjoying the brief flashback, rubbing the water from his hair with a towel.
She looks up from a brochure and pouts. She is probably slightly too old to pout, but they’ve been going out a short enough time for it still to be cute.
“Do we really have to do something that involves trekking up mountains, or hanging over ravines? It’s our first proper holiday together, and there is literally not one single trip in these that doesn’t involve either throwing yourself off something or”—she pretends to shudder—“wearing fleece.”
She throws the brochures down on the bed, stretches her caramel-colored arms above her head. Her voice is husky, testament to their missed hours of sleep. “How about a luxury spa in Bali? We could lie around on the sand…spend hours being pampered…long, relaxing nights…”
“I can’t do those sorts of holidays. I need to be doing something.”
“Like throwing yourself out of airplanes.”
“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”
She pulls a face. “If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll stick with knocking it.”
His shirt is faintly damp against his skin. He runs a comb through his hair and switches on his mobile phone, wincing at the list of messages that immediately pushes its way through onto the little screen.
“Right,” he says. “Got to go. Help yourself to breakfast.” He leans over the bed to kiss her. She smells warm and perfumed and deeply sexy. He inhales the scent from the back of her hair, and briefly loses his train of thought as she wraps her arms around his neck, pulling him down toward the bed.
“Are we still going away this weekend?”
He extricates himself reluctantly. “Depends what happens on this deal. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment. There’s still a possibility I might have to be in New York. Nice dinner somewhere Thursday, either way? Your choice of restaurant.” His motorbike leathers are on the back of the door, and he reaches for them.
She narrows her eyes. “Dinner. With or without Mr. BlackBerry?”
“Mr. BlackBerry makes me feel like Miss Gooseberry.” The pout again. “I feel like there’s always a third person vying for your attention.”
“I’ll turn it on to silent.”
“Will Traynor!” she scolds. “You must have some time when you can switch it off.”
“I turned it off last night, didn’t I?”
“Only under extreme duress.”
He grins. “Is that what we’re calling it now?” He pulls on his leathers. And Lissa’s hold on his imagination is finally broken. He throws his motorbike jacket over his arm, and blows her a kiss as he leaves.
There are twenty-two messages on his BlackBerry, the first of which came in from New York at 3:42 A.M. Some legal problem. He takes the lift down to the underground car park, trying to update himself with the night’s events.
“Morning, Mr. Traynor.”
The security guard steps out of his cubicle. It’s weatherproof, even though down here there is no weather to be protected from. Will sometimes wonders what he does down here in the small hours, staring at the closed-circuit television and the glossy bumpers of £60,000 cars that never get dirty.
He shoulders his way into his leather jacket. “What’s it like out there, Mick?”
“Terrible. Raining cats and dogs.”
Will stops. “Really? Not weather for the bike?”
Mick shakes his head. “No, sir. Not unless you’ve got an inflatable attachment. Or a death wish.”
Will stares at his bike, then peels himself out of his leathers. No matter what Lissa thinks, he is not a man who believes in taking unnecessary risks. He unlocks the top box of his bike and places the leathers inside, locking it and throwing the keys at Mick, who catches them neatly with one hand. “Stick those through my door, will you?”
“No problem. You want me to call a taxi for you?”
“No. No point both of us getting wet.”
Mick presses the button to open the automatic barrier and Will steps out, lifting a hand in thanks. The early morning is dark and thunderous around him, the Central London traffic already dense and slow despite the fact that it is barely half past seven. He pulls his collar up around his neck and strides down the street toward the junction, from where he is most likely to hail a taxi. The roads are slick with water, the gray light shining on the mirrored pavement.
He curses inwardly as he spies the other suited people standing on the edge of the curb. Since when did the whole of London begin getting up so early? Everyone has had the same idea.
He is wondering where best to position himself when his phone rings. It is Rupert.
“I’m on my way in. Just trying to get a cab.” He catches sight of a taxi with an orange light approaching on the other side of the road, and begins to stride toward it, hoping nobody else has seen. A bus roars past, followed by a lorry whose brakes squeal, deafening him to Rupert’s words. “Can’t hear you, Rupe,” he yells against the noise of the traffic. “You’ll have to say that again.” Briefly marooned on the island, the traffic flowing past him like a current, he can see the orange light glowing, holds up his free hand, hoping that the driver can see him through the heavy rain.
“You need to call Jeff in New York. He’s still up, waiting for you. We were trying to get you last night.”
“What’s the problem?”
“Legal hitch. Two clauses they’re stalling on under section…signature…papers…” His voice is drowned out by a passing car, its tires hissing in the wet.
“I didn’t catch that.”
The taxi has seen him. It is slowing, sending a fine spray of water as it slows on the opposite side of the road. He spies the man farther along whose brief sprint slows in disappointment as he sees Will will get there before him. He feels a sneaking sense of triumph. “Look, get Cally to have the paperwork on my desk,” he yells. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
He glances both ways, then ducks his head as he runs the last few steps across the road toward the cab, the word “Blackfriars” already on his lips. The rain is seeping down the gap between his collar and his shirt. He will be soaked by the time he reaches the office, even walking this short distance. He may have to send his secretary out for another shirt.
“And we need to get this due diligence thing worked out before Martin gets in—”
He glances up at the screeching sound, the rude blare of a horn. He sees the side of the glossy black taxi in front of him, the driver already winding down his window, and at the edge of his field of vision something he can’t quite make out, something coming toward him at an impossible speed.
He turns toward it, and in that split second he realizes that he is in its path, that there is no way he is going to be able to get out of its way. His hand opens in surprise, letting the BlackBerry fall to the ground. He hears a shout, which may be his own. The last thing he sees is a leather glove, a face under a helmet, the shock in the man’s eyes mirroring his own. There is an explosion as everything fragments.
And then there is nothing.
There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes. I turned the corner onto our street (68 steps), and could just see the house—a four-bedroom semi in a row of other three- and four-bedroom semis. Dad’s car was outside, which meant he had not yet left for work.
Behind me, the sun was setting behind Stortfold Castle, its dark shadow sliding down the hill like melting wax to overtake me. On a different sort of day, I could have told you all the things that had happened to me on this route: where Dad taught me to ride a bike without stabilizers; where Mrs. Doherty with the lopsided wig used to make us Welsh cakes; the hedge where Treena knocked a wasp’s nest and we ran screaming all the way back to the castle.
Thomas’s tricycle was upturned on the path and, closing the gate behind me, I dragged it under the porch and opened the door. The warmth hit me with the force of an air bag; Mum is a martyr to the cold and keeps the heating on all year round. Dad is always opening windows, complaining that she’d bankrupt the lot of us. He says our heating bills are larger than the GDP of a small African country.
“That you, love?”
“Yup.” I hung my jacket on the peg, where it fought for space among the others.
“Which you? Lou? Treena?”
I peered around the living-room door. Dad was facedown on the sofa, his arm thrust deep between the cushions, as if they had swallowed his limb whole. Thomas, my five-year-old nephew, was on his haunches, watching him intently.
“Lego.” Dad turned his face toward me, puce from exertion. “Why they have to make the damned pieces so small I don’t know.”
“Upstairs. How about that? A two-pound piece!”
I looked up, just able to hear the familiar creak of the ironing board. Josie Clark, my mother, never sat down. It was a point of honor. She had been known to stand on an outside ladder painting the windows, occasionally pausing to wave, while the rest of us ate a roast dinner.
“Will you have a go at finding this bloody arm for me? He’s had me looking for half an hour and I’ve got to get ready for work.”
“Are you on nights?”
“Yeah. It’s half past five.”
I glanced at the clock. “Actually, it’s half past four.”
He extracted his arm from the cushions and squinted at his watch. “Then what are you doing home so early?”
I shook my head vaguely, as if I might have misunderstood the question, and walked into the kitchen.
Granddad was sitting in his chair by the kitchen window, studying a Sudoku. The health visitor had told us it would be good for his concentration, help his focus after the strokes. I suspected I was the only one to notice he simply filled out all the boxes with whatever number came to mind.
He looked up and smiled.
“You want a cup of tea?”
He shook his head, and partially opened his mouth.
I opened the fridge door. “There’s no apple juice.” Apple juice, I remembered now, was too expensive. “Water?”
He nodded, murmured something that could have been a thank-you as I handed him the glass.
My mother walked into the room, bearing a huge basket of neatly folded laundry. “Are these yours?” She brandished a pair of socks.
“Treena’s, I think.”
“I thought so. Odd color. I think they must have got in with Daddy’s plum pajamas. You’re back early. Are you going somewhere?”
“No.” I filled a glass with tap water and drank it.
“Is Patrick coming around later? He rang here earlier. Did you have your mobile off?”
“He said he’s after booking your holiday. Your father says he saw something on the television about it. Where is it you liked? Ipsos? Kalypsos?”
“That’s the one. You want to check your hotel very carefully. Do it on the Internet. He and Daddy watched something on the news at lunchtime. Apparently they’re building sites, half of those budget deals, and you wouldn’t know until you got there. Daddy, would you like a cup of tea? Did Lou not offer you one?” She put the kettle on, then glanced up at me. It’s possible she had finally noticed I wasn’t saying anything. “Are you all right, love? You look awfully pale.”
She reached out a hand and felt my forehead, as if I were much younger than twenty-six.
“I don’t think we’re going on holiday.”
My mother’s hand stilled. Her gaze had that X-ray thing that it had held since I was a kid. “Are you and Pat having some problems?”
“I’m not trying to interfere. It’s just, you’ve been together an awful long time. It’s only natural if things get a bit sticky every now and then. I mean, me and your father, we—”
“I lost my job.”
My voice cut into the silence. The words hung there, searing themselves on the little room long after the sound had died away.
“Frank’s shutting down the café. From tomorrow.” I held out a hand with the slightly damp envelope I had gripped in shock the entire journey home. All 180 steps from the bus stop. “He’s given me my three months’ money.”
The day had started like any other day. Everyone I knew hated Monday mornings, but I never minded them. I liked arriving early at the Buttered Bun, firing up the huge tea urn in the corner, bringing in the crates of milk and bread from the backyard, and chatting to Frank as we prepared to open.
I liked the fuggy bacon-scented warmth of the café, the little bursts of cool air as the door opened and closed, the low murmur of conversation, and, when quiet, Frank’s radio singing tinnily to itself in the corner. It wasn’t a fashionable place—its walls were covered in scenes from the castle up on the hill, the tables still sported Formica tops, and the menu hadn’t altered since I started, apart from the addition of chocolate brownies to the iced-bun tray.
But most of all I liked the customers. I liked Kev and Angelo, the plumbers, who came in most mornings and teased Frank about where his meat might have come from. I liked the Dandelion Lady, nicknamed for her shock of white hair, who ate one egg and chips from Monday to Thursday and sat reading the complimentary newspapers and drinking her way through two cups of tea. I always made an effort to chat with her. I suspected it might be th...Revue de presse :
Poignant . . . heartfelt . . . Me Before You, at it's heart, is about two people who properly listen to each other; it is something good ( The Independent on Sunday)
Another powerful love story. A deftly plotted narrative populated with likeable engaging characters . . . a bittersweet story about love, learning and letting go. It's a tremendous read and I loved it ( Daily Mail)
When I finished this novel, I didn't want to review it: I wanted to reread it . . . An affair to remember ( The New York Times Book Review)
Keep the tissues close as Jojo Moyes returns with Me Before You, a heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting tale about the relationship between an embittered quadriplegic man and the carer who is trying to give him a reason to live ( Good Housekeeping)
A compelling novel of life and death decisions and unlikely affections. It's magical and heartbreaking, but doesn't shy away from difficult emotional realities. Waterproof mascara essential ( Marie Claire)
A disarmingly moving love story . . . a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling ( Publishers Weekly)
Heartbreaking, soul-searching and utterly compelling ( Easy Living)
This truly beautiful story made us laugh, smile and sob like a baby - you simply have to read it ( Closer)
Compelling, moving and absorbing. It's also a real weepie ( Daily Express)
Destined to be the novel that friends press upon each other more than any other next year, it is a tremendous example of what commercial fiction can do when in the hands of an expert. Moyes does a majestic job of conjuring a cast of characters who are charismatic, credible and utterly compelling; Lou and Will are a couple who readers will take to their hearts as they did One Day's Emma and Dex ( The Independent)
Poignant and beautifully written, this book will stay with you long after you've put it down ( Star Magazine)
Funny, believable and heartbreaking, this is sure to be the weepy of 2012 ( Woman's Own)
A compelling portrait of an unlikely couple ( The Independent)
Me Before You is a page-turner that sucks the reader into caring about the fate of the heroine . . . By turns funny and moving but never predictable. The plot contains a number of surprises and raises thoughtful questions ( USA Today)
A perceptive and moving tale ( The Independent)
Funny, surprising and heartbreaking, populated with characters who are affecting and amusing . . . This is a thought-provoking, thoroughly entertaining novel that captures the complexity of love ( People)
Beautifully written ( The Sun)
An unlikely love story . . . To be devoured like candy, between tears ( O, The Oprah Magazine)
Read it and weep: Heartbreak collides with humour in Jojo Moyes's Me Before You ( Good Housekeeping USA)
Jojo Moyes has done it again with this funny, touching tale that is impossible to put down. Make sure you have a box of tissues to hand! ( Candis)
When I finished this novel, I didn't want to review it: I wanted to reread it. Which might seem perverse if you know that for most of the last hundred pages I was dissolved in tears. Jojo Moyes, the writer who produced this emotional typhoon, knows very well that Me Before You . . . is a 'real weepy'. Moyes's story provokes tears that are redemptive, the opposite of gratuitous. Some situations, she forces the reader to recognise, really are worth crying over . . . An affair to remember ( Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review)
At last, a new Moyes novel - and it's a triumph. Her story of love blossoming in the most unlikely of ways packs such an emotional punch, you'll need a box of tissues ( Elle)
Jojo Moyes's poignantly romantic tales have readers streaming their way through boxes of Kleenex . . . Me Before You is compelling reading...a profound, fundamental, thought-provoking conundrum lies at the heart of the story, a huge moral dilemma, explored with great fictional finesse. Devotees of Jojo Moyes and newcomers alike will settle into this entertaining book with gusto ( Sunday Express)
Romantic, thought-provoking tear-jerker than you won't be able to put down ( Woman & Home)
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Paperback. État : Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. N° de réf. du libraire GOR007146269
Description du livre Paperback. État : Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. N° de réf. du libraire GOR004739698
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