Still Me (Me Before You, #3)by Published 30 Jan 2018
|Still Me (Me Before You, #3).pdf|
|Publisher||Pamela Dorman Books|
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Jojo Moyes, a new book featuring her iconic heroine of Me Before You and After You, Louisa Clark.
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.
As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?
Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world.
"Still Me (Me Before You, #3)" Reviews
Long review ahead. Read at your own discretion. I do sincerely hope Jojo Moyes reads this.
I understand Me Before You has a fond place in many people's heart. I'm sure most have heard, or seen its movie make.
In the entirety of the series, I can truthfully say this is the most unfulfilling, saddening book, because it has done an injustice to its protagonist. Louisa Clark deserves better. Across these books, it's impossible not to notice that she has the kindest, most selfless heart, yet she continues to fall in love with selfish men. Men, who ultimately are charming but in likeness are also bullies. Her selflessness is her downfall because she leaves behind her pride, and her own sense of self's value to be stomped on.
'Me Before You' revolves around Louisa becoming the "companion" of Will Traynor, a man who is paralysed and permanently stuck in a cynical state. What initially begins as a hateful employer-employee relationship slowly transforms into friendship and later love, until we come to a penultimate ending where Will commits euthanasia. It was the rawest book I have ever read. Saying that, I was not blind to Will's flaws and the way he incessantly reminded Louisa that she was this small town girl who simply had to "live" whereby his definition of living included an exploration of the world. Yes, Louisa blossomed under new experiences, but there was an almost manipulative quality to the way he would push her sometimes as if, should she not strive for all these new things with this "potential" he has noticed in her, then she simply accepts to being a no body. There's an emphasis on how Louisa would never be an object of lust - I say the word object loosely, but rather one of love. Someone who you don't take notice of instantaneously but mould in order to love. He fit her into a brighter, new shiny model of Louisa Clark. It seemed to me no one accepts Lou as she is.
'Me After You' begins eighteen months after Will's suicide. Louisa is stuck in a spiral of grief, unable to grasp her footing on how she will fulfil the promise she made to Will: the promise to live and experience new things. The shift in herself only begins after she unexpectedly meets the sixteen year old daughter Will never knew he had. And somewhere amongst the chaos, she begins to date a paramedic named Sam, quite possibly the least romantic and least passionate man to star as a leading hero in a book.
In 'Still Me', Louisa finally sets off in search for an adventure in New York with a new job. She's bright eyed and positive and fearless. I admire Lou's fearlessness. She's not home sick, yet there is an acute loss of the people in her life, and a homely atmosphere.
“You always have one foot in two places. You can never be truly happy because, from the moment you leave, you are two selves, and wherever you are one half of you is always calling to the other. This is our price, Louisa. This is the cost of who we are.”
The long distance relationship between herself and Sam has become a strain. No one puts in effort with Louisa and they only do once they have lost her and suddenly see her "value". It is quite possibly the most real, and disheartening thing to read about. She begged Sam in the first three months of her move that he write her emails and letters and update her on all the small bits of his life so they are still there for one another. But he's very dismissive of her wishes, and puts little to no emotional effort in their relationship. Instead when he comes down to visit her, he pushes blame that she has left him, and changed in this new place. It seemed he was determined to sour any of the time they did spend together. He doesn't appreciate any of the small things she does to keep him in her life, and it was this very ignorance that made me resent him because it is the recipe to a relationship ending. Instead, Lou learns he has a new female partner at work, and as information filters through alongside what can only be called a woman's intuition, Lou knows this lady named Kate clearly is into Sam, yet when Louisa announces her feelings, Sam blows up at her. Instead he gets jealous over a man named Josh who was helpful when she was stuck in a tricky situation. A man who resembles Will in looks only. Lou who cuts Josh off out of deference to Sam once she realises that he bothers him. Yet he does not pay her the same curtesy. Instead he goes out with Katie to bars, they take close body to body pictures, they have drinks, he goes over to her flat fixing her wardrobe. Spending working hours in the company of a woman who is interested is almost understandable, yet spending non-working hours in the company of a woman who you know bothers your girlfriend clearly shows you do not respect her wishes. Those are not the actions of a boyfriend but of a man looking for the opportunity to cheat. When Louisa returns earlier than expected for Christmas and plans to surprise Sam, she witnesses this:
“She walked across the carriage saying something unclear, her voice muffled by the glass, her hair clipped up and tumbling in soft curls around her face. She was wearing a man’s T-shirt – his? – and holding a wine bottle, and I saw him shake his head. And then, as he bent over the stove, she walked up behind him and placed her hands on his neck, leaning towards him and rubbing the muscles around it with small circular motions of her thumbs, a movement that seemed born of familiarity. Her thumbnails were painted deep pink. As I stood there, my breath stalled in my chest, he leant his head back, his eyes closed, as if surrendering himself to her fierce little hands.
And then he turned to face her, smiling, his head tilted to one side, and she stepped back, laughing, and raised a glass to him.”
This is one of the points when I respected Lou, because she breaks it off in one sweep.
“I’m sorry,’ he said finally. ‘About the other night. I never wanted to … Well, it was badly judged.’
I shook my head. I couldn’t speak any more.
‘I didn’t sleep with her. If you won’t hear anything else, I do need you to hear that.’
‘You said –’
He looked up.
‘You said … nobody would ever hurt me again. You said that. When you came to New York.’ My voice emerged from somewhere in my chest. ‘I never thought for a moment you would be the one to do it.”
And Sam just lets her go just as he tried to keep her, without passion. No one really listens to Louisa in her life: her boyfriend, her family, hell maybe even Will when he was alive. No one appreciates her for who she is, not really. Lou later dates Josh, who again tries to change her. She accommodates him, changing her style trying to fit into the model of a corporate girlfriend. To me, Louisa loses her sense of individuality when she is coupled off with a man, doing whatever she can to sate and please him, yet this behaviour does not extend to herself from her partner. And only when Sam learns that she is dating Josh does he begin to write letters wanting her back. After months. And do you know what that showed me as a reader? That he was more concerned about a prospective man, and Louisa's attention and life moving further away than he was preoccupied with her and who she is. I suppose he did end up with Katie, and it didn't work out, but the situation wasn't explained there at all, other than a few short sentences in a letter:
“I’m not with Katie. I wasn’t when I last saw you. I don’t want to say too much but it became clear pretty quickly that we are very different people, and that I had made a huge mistake. If I’m honest, I think I knew it from the start.”
It wasn't a mistake, it was sacrilege, and if Lou had any pride she wouldn't have given him a second chance. Only at the end does Louisa take control of her life and go after a career that truly makes her happy. The return of Sam and their reunion was the possibly worst ending for me. It was a grave injustice to the spark that is Louisa Clark. She should have left him, and his fucking fuckery self behind, looking towards the future. Not having to continuously rely or need a man, but being her own independent, loveable self. She never needed Sam, or Josh. She just needed the catalyst that was Will.
Hello again, Louisa Clark!
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Books teach you empathy.
I enjoyed a lot reading this book, since after three novels (counting this one), Louisa Clark, is already a literary character that it’s always a wonderful experience to read about.
Louisa Clark goes to her next phase in her life, this time leaving her native England to go to work at New York. She has to leave her family, her friends and her boyfriend, Ambulance Sam, only Nathan is with her, since it was him who helped her to get the job as personal assistant of the new wife of a very important and rich man, living at the famous Fifth Avenue, but you will get to know several places around the city that never sleeps, becoming another resident there as well as Lou.
Jojo’s narrative which turn into the very voice and thoughts of Louisa, take us to New York in a way that you can watch each building, you can feel each street, you can taste each weather.
Something that I love about Jojo Moyes’ books (at least Louisa Clark’s saga) that you learn empathy (as the chosen quote clearly indicates), since you never has to rush to conclusions about the people that you meet, the same as in the first book and the second one too, characters that maybe get your nerves, you need to be patient, since you never know how relevant an unexpected character can be for the fate of Louisa Clark,…
…the same as our own lives.
You have to be true to yourself, don’t look for doing bad things on purpose to others, never look for revenge, keep your soul and heart clean, and don’t look for unnecesary enemies, since life will give you enough unavoidable foes, for “helping” to add others to the list, even since life doesn’t help you giving people “white hats” or “black hats”, life isn't like an old western movie where isn't that hard to know who is good or bad out there.
There are people that it’s easy to know that can be a valuable friendship for you, but others won’t be so easy to recognize…
…be cautious, think before talk, and always do what you think is right.
There’s always something.
Lou keeps trying her best to do her tasks in the best possible way, and certainly she will put to test when duty and righteousness, will become one single mess, not making easy to know how to act at certain times.
Also, Lou will have to be strong about her own personality and the little things that made her like what truly is and don’t betray herself. Only Louisa Clark can be Louisa Clark and the literary world would be a sad place without her. In the same way, only you can be you in our world, so don’t make changes in your very foundation of what makes you, you.
Moreover, beside to learn about the new life of Lou in New York, you’ll be able to learn about the Clark family and the Traynors too. After three books (counting this one), they’re like part of our own family too, since it has been quite a journey since we meet for the first time to Lou when she was fired from the coffee shop, never imagining all the stuff that she’ll do from then on and all the incredible people that will get into Lou’s life.
For better or worse, always modeling into unexpected levels the life of our Lou.
Your life – it’s never quite, is it, love?
Thank you, Jojo, for giving us once again Lou and being able to walk side-by-side with her for a third time.
I loved Me Before You and enjoyed After You, two books I recommend you read before you read the third book in the trilogy, Still Me.
In Still Me, Louisa keeps her promise to Will, her love from book one, to say yes to new opportunities. This opportunity brings her from her home in England—and her hunky boyfriend the paramedic Sam—to New York City to be the assistant to a wealthy young wife of a wildly rich man. Louisa acts like something of an emotional bodyguard for Agnes against the society women who assumed she stole Leonard from his first wife because she was just after his money and citizenship (she’s from Poland). There are perks to her job, like going to charity balls in 3,000-dollar dress purchased by her employer, but it puts a huge strain on her relationship with Sam. Can they make the long-distance thing work, or is this going to be the end of them?
I laughed and teared up at this book. Moyes does a great job of a putting the character in a terrible situation where you think “Oh no, how is she going to get out of this?” I just didn’t laugh quite as hard or cry as much as I did in Me Before You. Still, this novel is worth your time.
For more of my reviews, please visit: http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
Why This Book
I enjoyed the first two books in the 'Me Before You' series, then I won the third one, Still Me, by Jojo Moyes, in a Goodreads Giveaway. I was quite excited and nervous, as I adored the first book but thought the second was just decent/good. I am very glad to say this third one is much closer to the first!
Approach & Style
I read an advance copy of this ~378 page paperback novel in about 5 hours during a two day period. It goes very quickly as the story is quite intriguing -- the writing feels effortlessly natural. It's broken into ~35 chapters, which makes each about ten pages long. The book is told in first person POV with the perspective focused on Louisa. A few chapters have letters, emails or news articles to help push the story forward. It's the third in a series and well-worth the read to spend with the brilliance of the characters and the backdrop.
Plot, Characters & Setting
Louisa moves to Park Avenue in NYC to help her friend Nathan who looks after an upper class family. She'll be a 'friend' or 'assistant' to Agnes, the younger second-wife of Mr. Gopnik who was mentioned in the second book. There are various other staff in the Gopnik household and apartment building who Louisa interacts with, as well as some new friends she makes in NYC. Lou goes home for Christmas to visit her parents and sister, as well as continues to date Sam, the paramedic, from prior books. The story is about her acclimation to a different kind of life than she had in England, as well as the process to help her figure out who she wants to be. Despite all that's happened to her, she still has more to learn... I love that about this story! There's romance, mystery, secrets, friendships, touristy fun, and decisions to make.
Jojo Moyes is a phenomenal storyteller. I adore her characters, settings and scenes. I may be partial as I know a lot of the places in the book since it takes place in NYC; however, even when Lou is just wandering around with no real plot, it's brilliant writing. The setting is always described in the perfect amount of detail with just enough for my imagination to fill in the blanks.
The characters are very real and familiar. I've seen them before in reality and other books, but there's something special about their dialogue and how they relate to one another in this book. I whipped so fast through Still Me, as I just couldn't put it down.... you think 'I'll just spend 30 minutes before bed,' then find yourself 200 pages in and ready for more!
Lou's journey is a combination of the first two books. It takes the reality from the second book with the emotions from the first book, then smashes them together in a final wrapper on discovering what makes Lou 'still me.'
I can't say enough good things about this book... I won't spoil the ending, but that may be the only thing that I was a little 'eh' on, in terms of how she ends up relationship-wise. In this book, she struggles with long-distance Sam, meets someone new, and has to figure out what's right for her. Part of me saw a different ending, but this one still worked. Ultimately, I love Lou... she might be one of my favorite literary characters.
I will definitely pick up another Moyes book... after the three in this series, I know she's an author I will enjoy for many years. I'm grateful to the friend who introduced me to this series. :)
Madre de Dios! Qué manera de escribir tiene esta mujer; aún estoy sufriendo. Y asimilando lo que queda detrás de las palabras. Sencillamente precioso! Un oda a la vida y al carpe díem...