Monday, 28 May 2012

Me Before You - JoJo Moyes

I have just finished reading one of those life-changing thought-provoking type of books, 'Me Before You' by jojo Moyes.

The title doesn't really give a clue about what the book is about. The critics reviews on the front cover also sell the book way short. It isn't a romance, at least not in the traditional sense of the meaning. The story follows the story of Will, a rich, successful business man and man of action who lives life to the full, at least he has done until a road accident reduces him to a disabled quadriplegic with a death wise. The other main character is Louisa, who because of her fairly poor family background comes to work as Will's carer after losing her job at a local cafe.

As a Christian who is very pro-life, this book challenged all my preciously held beliefs. At the end of the book I would say that I still hold them like the heroine (and I believe the author) but perhaps not with such a smug sense of right based on judgementalism. The author helped me to understand the complexity of the issues involved and I could see how for Will it would be a more restrictive life than for many because of who he was. As he said in the book 'this chair is not what defines me'.

I also began to understand more about disability. We imagine that it is simply a life of paralysis which is bad enough but I hadn't realized how that paralysis can also bring with it frequent infections, illnesses and weaknesses etc. It was clear that the author had done her research around the subject well.

I would have preferred a little less swearing and blasphemy, especially from the other characters rather than Will ( it was more understandable in his case) as it added little to the story. But this is just a minor point.

I would definitely recommend this book highly but my recommendation comes with a warning. This book will come close to breaking your heart. I haven't wept over a book so much since reading Hardy's 'Jude the Obscure', so you have been warned. But do read it in order to understand more about disability or euthanasia and the complexity of the issues involved. This thought-provoking book is a book of epic proportions to be compared with other modern greats such as Douglas Kennedy's 'Pursuit of Happiness', the sort of book that once you finish it will haunt you for many days to come.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Shed in a Field

I have a great desktop background at the moment called 'Shed in a Field'.

What I like about it is this rickety looking wooden shed made up of lots of overlapping or uneven pieces which someone all manage to hang together. A bit like our lives I think. I often feel, especially as a writer, full of lots of uneven and misfitting pieces that hardly hang together. The shed also has thick moss on its roof perhaps reminiscent of age and experience. But after feeling discouraged about my writing this week, having had a much loved poem of mine torn apart at a writing group I have decided to quit the 'feeling sorry for me' syndrome and try to take some of the advice on board. The result is I think a better poem.
I also want to give credit to the advice of fellow RNA writer, Liz Fenwick for her excellent advice in 'Writer's Forum' magazine this month in her article 'Taking the long road'. She has just had her first novel 'The Cornish House' published but it is the eighth novel Liz has actually written! What's more she doesn't regret any of the time it's taken her to get to her debut novel but says the time has given her the "opportunity to grow as a writer" and "to find my voice". Maybe I too have a bit more growing to do so that all the different pieces hang together better even if in a higgledy piggledy fashion. Thanks to Liz and the little Shed for this week's inspiration.