I’m pretty sure most (closet) fans of chick-lit are likely to have read JoJo Moyes bestseller Me Before You, which has been around for a fair few years now. If not, perhaps you have seen the film adaptation of it which caused quite a stir. For those who need a recap you can take a look at the review I wrote about the movie a while ago : Review : Me Before You – Dating and Disabilities. Still Me, is the third in this little series of books (I can’t say trilogy because I’m sure there will be fourth book and then some) staring the socially awkward but well-meaning and loveable, Louisa Clarke.
But before I start wittering on about the three-quel to Me Before You. Let me give you a quick summary of its sequel Me After You (yeah, the titles aren’t all that creative). The second book is basically about how Lou copes in the aftermath of Will’s demise (sorry for the spoiler but surely you’ve read/watched Me Before You by now). It’s all pretty sad. Despite being left a bunch of money by her former employer/love of her life, Lou still finds herself in a dead-end job, falling off’ buildings, back home with the folks and basically stuck in a rut. But eventually, with the reader rooting for her, Lou starts to get back on her feet and as the second book comes to a close things are on the up for our protagonist as she embarks on a blossoming new relationship with a hunky paramedic and is contemplating an exciting move to the US of A.
That brings you to this point in Louisa’s life story. Despite having just recently met the second love of her life, Lou has decided to take up a job as what is essentially a PA/’befriender’ to Agnes, the hot, young second wife of a rich old American tycoon, Leonard Gopnik. It’s really quite the adventure for a Lou. Sure, she has been exposed to some of the finer things in life thanks to her ‘crush’ (I mean sure she loved him but I doubt they did the deed so …. I don’t really know what you call it) on Will but she is still naive AF. So off she goes to the Big Bad Apple where she knows nobody apart from former colleague, Nathan (the nice Kiwi guy!).
Despite not really having any qualifications, she ends up with quite a cushy job. Sure, you don’t need a PhD to basically be someone’s only ‘friend’/wing woman/ confidante/running buddy but you know, she really did land with ass in the butter right there. As with most forms of employment, the job requires Louisa to sell her soul to some degree. She is working for a very wealthy family and as we all know from soapies and the like, such famillies also have dirty dirty little secrets. But of course living the high-life comes with its perks – having a personal trainer, going shopping at fancy stores all day, attending high society champagne banquets where you meet men that remind you of your ‘ex’ (yeah, that’s one of the things that’s sure to send any girl over the edge!).
In addition to the issue of being confronted by ghosts of boyfriends past (no pun intended!) another major relationship issue that Lou has to content with is that of doing the whole long-distance thing with her new beau aka Ambulance Sam. Ah, long distance relationships. A somewhat touchy subject for yours truly. And basically, the thing about this book that aggravated me no end. So here you have Lou living the big city life in New York while Sam potters away at his somewhat mediocre existence in a nondescript part for Blighty. Despite the fact that neither of them really has PHAT jobs they somehow manage to afford transatlantic flights for surprise dirty weekends with one another while simultaneously struggling to maintain any form of electronic communication.
The whole portrayal of long distance relationships in Still Me is just wrong. Having had distance being the make or break factor in many a previous relationship, I can testify to the fact that long distance relationships are bloody hard. They require oodles of communication (none of this ‘I don’t like writing emails’ BS) and more importantly they need an end goal. It’s unrealistic to expect such a thing to survive otherwise, especially in the age of instant gratification and the Tinder-syndrome (where you know there could be something potentially better and more convenient around the corner).
However, the whole relationship element isn’t really the central focus of the story. It’s more about Lou deciding to actually focus on herself and ‘live boldly’, as per Will’s advice. But obviously, that isn’t all fun and games. There are also plenty of subplots to keep the reader amused – how to handle being a mere minion to the high-society New Yorkers with their dirty little secrets and #firstworldproblems, being faced with opportunities for infidelity (especially when you doing some half-hearted, unrealistic long distance, relationship jobby), dealing with death, coming out to your somewhat backwater family, old age and PUPPIES.
Of course, I come across a bit cynical. It’s not a book you should be digging to deep into (although you don’t have to look that hard to see some glaringly obvious gaps in the storyline!). Life is complicated enough as it is, so sometimes its good to escape with some light and fluffy literature and that is exactly what this is. So if you take it for what it is rather than trying to be too high-brow about it all, its a nice enough book. The protagonist is somewhat loveable despite being infuriating, and you do find yourself feeling for her as she experiences life’s ups and downs. And because there is sure to be some part of the story that most people will resonate with I think Still Me will still do well and we will see the fourth installment of Lou’s story in the bookshops soon enough.
Rinsers. Have you read the book? What did you think? And what are your thoughts on long distance relationships? Are they easier or more difficult these days?