“This is just what happiness feels like…” (4.5 stars)
Source- review copy
Published by Penguin UK- February 27th 2014
I read the Kindle edition. The hardback version is 436 pages.
Bit of a short review this one- I read this book in around October time last year and have been sitting on this review for months, in anticipation of posting it just before its publication date.
Needless to say that there are very few authors who can offer pretty much a certainty to their readers that their book will be an amazing, engrossing read. For me, Jo Jo Moyes is one of these few. I have loved every single one of her books, my favourite being the tear jerking ‘Me Before You.’ So I was of course looking forward to reading her newest book, particularly as it sounded like it would be about very ‘real’ people and their lives.
Cleaner Jess is a single mum, trying her very best to earn enough money to look after her kids- her maths prodigy daughter Tanzie and her grungy stepson; she barely earns enough to get by but will do anything to support her somewhat chaotic family, despite the stress and at the detriment to her own social and personal life. Workaholic Ed meanwhile isn’t having the best of luck either- he’s under investigation from the fraud squad after inadvertently finding himself caught up in an ‘insider trading’ scandal and suspended from his job, potentially facing prison. How is it then that two complete opposites with so much going on in their lives can potentially be so absolutely *right* for one another…?
For me, one of the aspects that I enjoyed the most about this storyline was how realistic it felt from the outset. Readers will be able to identify with the characters and their predicaments, especially downtrodden mum Jess. The main protagonists are themselves well-drawn and I loved the journey that they underwent during the course of the storyline and getting to know them. The interaction between them felt natural and I liked how they initially perceived one another and some of the misunderstandings they experienced. Whilst I didn’t like Ed at first, I must admit that I really warmed to him as the novel sped by and it was nice to read about a male lead who certainly had a lot of flaws. At the end of the day, the two of them managed to bring out the best qualities in one another which is the essence of every true relationship. Tanzie, Jess’ daughter genuinely stole the book for me though- I thought she was a superb character and really wanted the best for her.
The romance aspect is evident in this book too, though this perhaps feels somewhat secondary to the rest of the novel as it is quite a slow-burning one. Ed and Jess take the time to become friends after a rocky start and this again, felt real. I *hate* novels where there is an instant connection and the characters declare their undying love for one another within a few pages, but thankfully there was none of that here. In that respect, this storyline felt perhaps a bit unconventional compared to the usual romance novels I have read recently, albeit way more realistic- it wasn’t just some sort of corny fairytale.
The One Plus One has lots of humour (including one hilarious chapter with a kebab and another with a farting dog), some poignant moments and also some heart-warming occurrences that made me very glad I read it. I would not hesitate in recommending it to fans of Jo Jo Moyes past work, along with anyone who appreciates well-written contemporary fiction. It is sure to be another best-seller and deservedly so.
Other books by Jo Jo Moyes: