I was really pleased to be chosen by Mumsnet Book Club to review The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. When it arrived in the post, and I realised how big it was, my heart sank a little. I'd just finished reading a massive brick of a book that had taken me a month to get through, and had been looking forward to something a little lighter.
Imagine my surprise then, when despite its size, I finished this book within a couple of days!
The One Plus One is a story about a single mother called Jess. Her husband has had "a breakdown" and disappeared off to his mother's house at the other end of the country, and she works as a cleaner at the posh holiday homes on the other side of town.
Then there's Ed. He's a geek whose software company has grown sufficiently that he and his friend can float it on the stock exchange and live the life of luxury. Then things go a bit wrong for him, and he ends up spending a lot more time at his holiday home at the coast. Guess who his cleaner is...
The book is written from four perspectives: Ed, Jess, and each of Jess's children, Nicky and Tanzie. To me, it's a story about people who don't fit in: Jess is a cleaner surrounded by rich people; Nicky is bullied by the kids at school for not fitting in; Tanzie is some sort of maths prodigy who loves to wear the clothes her mother has made for her. Ed was a massive geek at uni who nobody spoke to.
This book probably falls into that ridiculous "chick lit" genre. It's not high-brow, and you're not likely to learn much or have any life-changing philosophical discussions off the back of it. Then again, not all books need to be that way, do they? It's well written and the story weaves fantastically; you start off thinking, oh right, cleaner meets rich bloke whilst cleaning his loo as if it's entirely predictable - but actually, that's not how it goes at all. The story is something entirely unpredictable, from beginning to end.
I loved this book; parts of it made me laugh out loud, and parts made me get a bit teary-eyed. It was so easy to read and a real page turner. Being an easy read, although the story was engrossing, it didn't require a lot of concentration. There were only four main characters so you didn't have to keep trying to remember who someone was referring to, or some long back story that explained the current situation. Because it was so unpredictable, I found that I kept saying to myself "just one more chapter" to find out what happened next - and have spent a lot of time reading! I can definitely see why this was a number one bestseller.
I've never read a book by Jojo Moyes before, though she is apparently very popular as an author - and I can see why. According to her Wikipedia entry, she's one of very few authors to have twice won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. I have to say, this is not a book I would ordinarily have picked up off the shelf in my local book shop. That said, now I've read it I may well go and hunt down a few more of her books!
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for a review. All words and opinions are my own.