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This is an audiobook narrated by Patience Tomlinson.

Siblings Robert (62) and Phoebe (60) are concerned about their 85 year old father James. After a fall renders the upstairs of his house out of bounds to him, they decide they need to hire a carer for him. After a few carers come and go for various reasons, they hire Mandy – hard-working, down to earth and plain speaking (sometimes too much so). Although Mandy’s outdated and somewhat questionable views are completely at odds with those of their father, Robert and Phoebe are grateful to her for her hard work, and pleased that Mandy and James seem to hit it off, with her presence lending him a new lease of life. But then they start to get jealous of her, and suspicious of her motives. Why is she going through their father’s private papers. And why did a previous client of hers leave her a flat in his Will? Is there more to Mandy than meets the eye?

I have mixed feelings about this book. First the narration – no complaints there; Patience Tomlinson did a great job with all characters. The first part of the book – with alternating chapters told from the points of view of Phoebe and Robert – was enjoyable with some amusing moments, and some believable insights into their situation, watching their once distinguished father grow older and frailer, and seeing him much closer to his carer than he often was with them when they were growing up. There is a twist which I genuinely did not see coming, but which set up the change of direction and narrative for the next part of the book, which is told from the points of view of James and other characters (unnamed here for fear of spoilers). I did not enjoy this part of the book anywhere near as much as the first part, and the conclusion when it came was something of an anti-climax.

I don’t doubt that Deborah Moggach can write believable scenarios and characters, and her prose is very engaging but I did feel a slight dissatisfaction with this book in the end. However, I would certainly try something else by this author.

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Louisa Clark is 26 years old, in a vaguely unsatisfying relationship with fitness fanatic Patrick, lives with her parents, sister, nephew and Grandad in a house that really isn’t big enough for them all, and works in a cafe, doing a job she likes but which has no prospects.  Her world could not be more different than that of Will Traynor, who is handsome, intelligent, rich, funny, adventurous and well-travelled.  But Will’s life has changed unimaginably since he was in a road accident that left him quadraplegic, and Lou’s life changes when she loses her job at the cafe, and becomes a carer for Will.  Initially antagonistic towards each other, the two end up becoming good friends – and each becomes something of a lifeline to the other.  Louisa desperately wants to help Will cope with his disability, but Will already has his own plans for the rest of his life.

I had heard many many good things about this book – SO many in fact, that I felt certain I was going to be let down when I actually read it.  However, I was not let down; in fact I found that this novel was one of those rare books that I genuinely did not want to put down.  I lost myself in it for hours at a time, and found that I was totally engaged with these two characters.  I really don’t want to give too much away about what happens, so I have limited my description of the story to more or less what is on the back cover of the book.  I must say though, that this story had me crying on several occasions, and laughing on other – yes, even when discussing such an emotionally charged subject, Jojo Moyes still managed to convey the hilarity of some situations.

The book is mainly told from Lou’s point of view, and I grew to really like her; like Will, I felt frustrated at her inability to see her own potential, and her apparent willingness to settle for less than she deserved.  As for Will – I really don’t believe I can even begin to imagine how it must be to live his life – but this book did make me think about how it must be for a young man in his prime to lose practically all of his physical capabilities. 

If I had just one criticism, it would be that I thought the upper classes were portrayed almost as caricatures – rich women are apparently all stunning beautiful but selfish, and the men are all boorish and brash.  This really is just a tiny niggle though, and certainly would not stop me recommending this book to everybody. 

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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