The plot progression is predictable as Lou's oddball (natch) behaviour begins to change Will from a despairing anger to someone who can laugh, sometimes. But will that be enough to keep him from Switzerland? The plot may be predictable and the cast list certainly is: Lou has a totally unsuitable boyfriend, of course, and a sister who seems awful but is caring underneath and a couple of heart-warming parents who are the utter opposite of Will's posh but seemingly distant parents. But somehow, somehow JJM keeps us guessing what will happen almost to the last page. Not only that but she can take a stock character and make it come alive. Lou's family are real people and I LOVED what she did with mum by the end.
But the plot might be predictable and the characters stock but I cried near the end.
The plot structure is classic (spoilers here):
- We find out that Will wants to end his life and Lou has six months to change his mind as more or less exactly 25%.
- Lou's birthday party, at which Will meets Lou's boyfriend Patrick, is just before the 50% mark.
- Lou breaks up with Patrick at almost exactly the 75% mark
- Will announces he intends to die at 85%
- "Maybe he talks through one of those devices. Like that scientist bloke. The one on The Simpsons." (C 2) Poor Stephen Hawking. Better known for diability than his scientific breakthroughs and best known for being on the Simpsons!
- "I felt like a Mafia victim must do, watching the concrete slowly setting around their ankles." (C 3)
- "It's not as if they've never seen a girl nibbling a bloke's collar before ... we should both just be grateful that it wasn't in your trousers." (C 12)
- "Her hand went to her hair, always a good sign with my mother. It was a shame she hadn't remembered to take an oven glove off first." (C 13)
Other great moments:
- "I hadn't thought that as well as the obvious fears about money, and your future, losing your job would make you feel inadequate, and a bit useless." (C 1)
- "Spring arrived overnight, as if winter, like some unwanted guest, had abruptly shrugged its way into its coat and vanished, without saying goodbye." (C 7) That's a great metaphor
- "One of the boys I knew at school had taken a round-the-world trip and come back somehow removed and unknowable, like he wasn't the same scuffed eleven-year-old who used to blow spit bubbles during double French." (C 11) I love 'scuffed'.
- "Why do women always have to go over and over a situation until it becomes a problem?" (C 17)
- "It felt like I was living a life I hadn't had a chance to anticipate." (C 17)
I have also read and reviewed on this blog:
- Jo Jo Moyes's Sheltering Rain
- Let Go My Hand by Edward Docx, another, perhaps more thoughtful, book about a man taking his father to Dignitas on a cross-European road-trip
A page-turner. June 2020; 497 pages