Title: The One Plus One
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publication Date: 27th February 2014
About the book:
One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages… maybe ever.
What I thought:
I surprised myself and really enjoyed The One Plus One. I’m not the biggest reader of women’s fiction, if you look at my book shelves you’ll find a lot of classics, some YA back from when I was a YA, and an awful lot of crime thrillers. I’ve already read a couple of crime novels this year so I thought it was time for a bit of a change and this one has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while.
I’ll be honest I really struggled to get started with this one, the first two books I’d read this year I was picking up at every free moment, staying up late to read just one more chapter, to begin with this didn’t happen with this book. It certainly wasn’t that it was badly written it just wasn’t what I normally choose to read, but I was determined this year I was going to read more outside my norm so I persevered and slowly but surely the book grew on me and I ended up making it through the 500 and something pages in just a couple of days.
The One Plus One has 4 main characters:
- Jessica Thomas, a single mother living on a council estate, working a couple of jobs and trying to do the best she can for her daughter and stepson
- Nicky, the son of Jessica’s ex (Marty) who came to them when he was 8 and stayed when his dad left. A shy teenage boy who doesn’t fit in and his bullied by the Fishers – that family from the estate
- Tanzie, Jessica and Marty’s daughter. Still at primary school Tanzie is a maths genius who much like her big brother doesn’t fit in with the other kids on the estate.
- Ed Nicholls, Ed is an IT geek, but a successful one, or at least he was until he’s accused of insider trading and life as he knew it fell apart.
Each chapter of The One Plus One focuses on one of these 4 characters. Jessica was such an easy character to warm to, she was still in her teens when Tanzie was born, and when Nicky needed it she willingly took him in, she works so hard to try and give her kids the best she can I defy anyone not to be rooting for her within the first few chapters. Nicky at the beginning of the novel is constantly bullied by the Fishers and is incredibly withdrawn, the first chapter focusing on him is literally a sentence long, as you learn more about what he’s going through you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel for him. Tanzie is perhaps my favourite character of the four, when I was at primary school I was a bit of a maths geek too, though not as much of a prodigy as she is, so I found it very easy to connect with her, I was lucky enough to have friends at school but I found it very easy to put myself in her shoes. Finally Ed… At the start I really didn’t like him, he was a partner in a software company, recently divorced from an Italian model he sleeps with the woman that both he and his best friend had a crush on at university. She’s not what he thought she would be and so he gives her money and suggests she buys shares in his company so she can pay of her debts and go travelling. Ed ends up being charged with insider trading “ha, he deserves it” I thought. However turns out he’s a grower, and by the time they’re halfway to Scotland to get Tanzie to her Maths Olympiad you can’t help but hope that things will work out for them.
There are a lot of twists and turns along the way. Jojo Moyes manages to create a great connection between the reader and the characters and you can’t help but every single one of the ups and downs along the way, there’s humour throughout, and you can’t help but smile after spending days cramped in a car with 2 kids and a rather large dog, Jessica and Ed realise that actually while they’re both a bit weird they kinda like that about each other, and your heart breaks when something Jess does early on comes back to haunt her, it was enough to keep me turning pages until the end.
Would I recommend it?
Without a doubt. The One Plus One is completely out of my normal reading zone. I’d heard of Jojo Moyes before, it was hard not to with all the publicity for the film version of Me Before You, this was the first book I’d read by her but it won’t be the last. I will confess that I perhaps slightly looked down on what might be considered ‘chick lit’ while I certainly can’t claim to only read books of the highest critical acclaim and have shelves full of Tolstoy and Chekhov I was a book snob. Jojo Moyes has completely changed my opinion. This sort of book will probably never stand up there alongside Shakespeare but who says it has to? This book is a incredible enjoyable read. Jojo Moyes has created characters who are perfectly flawed, people you can really identify with and you genuinely want life to work out for Jess and Ed. And you know what with all the current uncertainty in the world sometimes you just need to escape into something with a happy ending, and you have to hope that in life sometimes doing the right thing and trying your best will pay off, even when you think everything is falling apart around you. As Tanzie says at the end ‘sometimes you just have to keep going’