A huge title in the romance genre that catapulted Jojo Moyes into the bestseller lists, Me Before You is both heart-warming and heart-breaking, a rich emotional rollercoaster that shares lessons on life as well as moments of comedy. Starting with Louisa Clark, 26, recently unemployed and with few qualifications, Louisa struggles to find a job and support her working-class family. Upon trialing for jobs, Louisa gets given the unique offer to work as a carer for Will Traynor, 35, son of a local wealthy family and in a state of quadriplegia. Will’s mother thinks that Louisa is just what Will needs to coax him out of his depression and so she hires her.
After a frosty reception and bitterness on Will’s part, Louisa tries all her efforts to breakthrough to Will and strike up a friendship. The two begin to get acquainted and reveal, little by little, parts of their lives; Louisa shares childhood stories and talks about her life with her parents, while Will reminisces about his life before the accident, glorifying the life he used to live and the contrast to him now. Through their growing interactions, Will and Louisa grow close, but is Louisa enough for him to escape his quadriplegia?
Moyes is able to capture a modern love story, intertwining issues of depression and disability which give the story deeper meaning. Her take on the life of someone afflicted with disability has been met with stern opposition by some; however, the character she creates isn’t one-dimensional, our perceptions of Will change over the course of the novel providing a more interesting character. Praise should be given to Moyes for choosing to end the novel in an unconventional way. Although it may not receive a warm reaction from some, it does set it apart from over titles in the genre and arguably makes the character of Louisa stronger.
Discuss Louisa’s insecurities in comparison to how she views her sister.
How does the story play on the differences in Will and Louisa’s backgrounds?
Will struggles to live with the shadow of his past and ultimately it contributes to his final decision. Do you think that Will would have found it easier to keep living if he didn’t have a comparison of himself as a fully mobile adult?
Did you find the character of Louisa instantly likeable? And if so, what was it about the character that made her feel approachable to the reader? Do you think her own embarrassments and struggles contribute to this?
Will’s life before the accident was one of high class, often moving in only select circles. It is likely that had the accident not occurred he would have shown no interest in someone of Louisa’s background, therefore do you think that the accident ultimately had a positive effect on his life?
How does the title ‘Me Before You’ reflect on the story and do you think this applies to one character in particular?
Did you feel sympathetic towards Patrick? Do you think it was difficult for him to see Louisa forming attachments with Will?
Little remains of Will’s life before the accident, his relationship broke down and friendships were strained, do you think that this reveals that Will’s life before the accident wasn’t meaningful? What effect would this revelation have on Will who often exaggerates this period of his life? Me-Before-You-Discussion-Questions.pdf
Louisa accompanies Will to Alicia (Will’s ex-girlfriend) and Rupert’s (Will’s best friend) wedding. The two dance and entertain each other, truly enjoying their night together. Will tells Louisa how much she means to him.
Louisa’s attempts at reaffirming Will’s life to him culminate in a vacation to Mauritius, knowing Will has a love of travel. The two really enjoy their time there. For Louisa, it opens her eyes to different experiences and the realisation that there is more beyond her small hometown in England. Louisa also starts to accept her feelings for Will; on the final night she kisses him and tells him that she loves him. Will starts to share with her his secret, his plans to commit suicide, but Louisa interrupts and tells him she already knows. Will reciprocates his feelings for Louisa but admits that his plans haven’t changed, although their time together was special to him, he cannot bear to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Louisa is hurt that Will still intends to end his life. Angry with him, she refuses to speak to him for the rest of the vacation. On arriving home, Louisa resigns as Will’s carer as it’s clear he won’t change his mind about going through with Dignitas.
Louisa visits Will for the last time on the night before he is due to fly to Switzerland. They discuss the time they spend with each other and what it meant to them, reflecting on how special it was. After his death at the clinic, Louisa receives a large inheritance from Will, giving her the freedom to experience more from her life and to not feel held back.
Louisa visits a café in Paris, one of Will’s favourite places in the world. She sits enjoying the atmosphere and reads Wills last letter to her. He tells her to ‘live well’.
Two sequels to Me Before You have been released: After You (2015) and Still Me (2018).
The book was adapted into a motion picture in 2016, it was a box-office hit.