I was at home in Ireland last week, and one of my sisters had this book sitting on her bedroom floor. So naturally I stole it, brought it back to England, and read it before she could. That’s how our relationship works, you know.
Third in the Me Before You series, this finally finishes the story of Lou Clark, which began in Me Before You, all those years ago (like… three years ago. Maybe)
Still Me (Me Before You #3) – Jojo Moyes
Coming soon – the third Lou Clark novel by Jojo Moyes, following the Number One international bestsellers Me Before You and After You
Lou Clark knows too many things . . .
She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.
She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.
Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt.
Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.
I read Me Before You in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched the film adaptation, with Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke, and thought it was fine, although it lost a lot of the nuance of the book. I read the sequel, After You, in 2016, and thought it was alright, although not as good as the first book, and dragged things out a bit. This third book? Was it really necessary?
Jojo Moyes is a great writer, don’t get me wrong. An alumna of Royal Holloway, my current employer, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed many of her books, including The Horse Dancer, The One Plus One, and Silver Bay, and I have many more queued up on my Kindle and Audible accounts, waiting for me to get around to them.
But this, third instalment in the life of Lou Clark, well, it fell a bit flat. I felt like I was sick of her, and her boring life, and really wished she’d just move on.
The idea of a story which looks at how you move on in your life from a great love which ended too soon was really lovely, and I was pretty excited for how After You would deal with Lou and this new chapter in her story. But I really feel like the most interesting part of Lou was meeting Will and how that changed her. The ramifications of his life on hers and the longer-lasting effects of that were definitely something that I find interesting, but not interesting enough to justify two six-hundred page books. S
So while I was reading Still Me, I was getting a bit fed up. Sure, I like Lou as a character, and I enjoyed her tale of finding herself in New York. But did this have to be a book on its own? Would it not have been snappier and more interesting if After You and Still Me had been edited down to be one, really impactful book, rather than the second half of a story split into two more parts? Really, with the best bits of Lou in Me Before You, Still Me and After You are only a quarter of the tale each, but taking up a third of the story.
Still Me was missing all the lovely things that I really enjoyed in the first two books. Lou’s relationship with her family, her sister, her nephew, Ambulance Sam, with Lily, with her home town and the notion of spreading her wings and being free of it… everything was just too sparse. There wasn’t enough content going on to keep me interested.
Too much time was spent on new characters who I just didn’t care about. I already had to deal with a total shift from Me Before You to After You. Why do I then have to deal with a third cast in the third book? I hate change! Major developments for characters that I actually cared about were minor background elements of the plot, with large swatches dedicated to people I fundamentally disliked and wished only bad things for.
Poor pacing, poor choice of character focus, and just too much guff draws away from the really interesting story of Lou finding who she is and what she wants, and detracts from the really enjoyable elements of this story. I’m not sorry to be leaving Lou behind, because at this stage, I’ve really had enough of her.
The story written here was good, it was interesting, it was emotive, but it wasn’t a story I wanted to be centred around Lou Clark. Separate her story from all the characters in New York, and I would have two stories I really loved, but for me this was a mediocre ending to a trilogy which had a really lovely start.