A young woman finds herself while caring for an embittered quadriplegic in this second novel from British author Moyes (The Last Letter from Your Lover, 2011).
Louisa has no apparent ambitions. At 26, she lives with her working-class family (portrayed with rollicking energy) in a small English town, carries on a ho-hum relationship with her dull boyfriend and works at a local cafe. Then, the cafe closes, and she must find a job fast to ease her family’s financial stress. Enter Will Traynor, a former world traveler, ladies’ man and business tycoon who’s been a quadriplegic since a traffic accident two years ago. Will’s magistrate mother hires Louisa at a relatively hefty salary to be Will’s caregiver and keep him company for the next six months—easygoing Nathan gives him his medical care and physiotherapy—but really Will’s mother wants Louisa to watch him so he doesn’t try to hurt himself. Will, once handsome and powerful, is not only embittered, but in constant pain. He has some use of one hand but is dependent on others for his basic needs, and recovery is not possible. Louisa, who can’t help speaking her mind and dresses thrift-store eccentric, thinks he hates her, but no surprise, Louisa’s sprightly, no-nonsense charms win him over. He even cheers her up on occasion. When Louisa overhears Will’s mother talking to his sister, she realizes that the Traynors have reluctantly agreed to let Will commit suicide at a facility in six months. Louisa decides to convince him to stay alive with a series of adventures. Meanwhile, Will, who senses something in her past has made Louisa fearful of adventure, is trying to broaden her experience through classical music and books. Their feelings for each other deepen. But Louisa is not Jane Eyre, and Will is not Mr. Rochester in a wheelchair, so don’t expect an easy romantic ending.
Despite some obviousness in the storyline, this is uplift fiction at its best, with fully drawn characters making difficult choices.