Recently I had a couple of long weekends off in a row and went away to see family. This involved a lot of hours in the car. Luckily, my partner did the driving which allowed me to sit back and read. I read The One Plus One by Jojo Meyes over one long weekend and I have to say it was the perfect travel book.
I discovered Jojo Moyes a while back when I read Me Before You – a powerful read about the relationship between a quadriplegic man and his carer. It was one of those rare times when you stumble upon a book that you know nothing about and then it turns out to be an absolute gem.
If there is one thing Jojo Meyes is good at it is creating characters who you can’t help but feel for and cheer for. The One Plus One is told from the perspective of four characters: Jess Thomas, a single mum separated from her deadbeat husband and working as a cleaner and in a pub to try and make ends meet; Ed Nicholls, a talented software developer with a lot of brains but not the best sense when it comes to relationships; Tanzie, daughter of Jess and a maths genius who has a chance for a better future at a new school, but money is an overwhelming obstacle; and Nicky, the teenage son of Jess’s ex who she has taken under her wing, his difference sees him the constant target of the local bullies.
Jess meets Ed when she cleans his weekender and again when he gets drunk at the pub where she works and she is forced to drive him home. The pair don’t think much of each other and their worlds are very different. At this point you might think the book is setting up a Cinderella-like story of rich guy falls for poor, single mum, but this book is far more interesting than that.
Through a whole heap of circumstances, this book becomes a road trip/Little Miss Sunshine story of sorts as Ed offers to drive Jess and her family to Scotland so that Tanzie can compete in a mathematics competition that if she wins will give her the money she needs to attend a better school. Along for the ride is Norman a huge slobbering dog who unofficially is the fifth main character in this novel.
I’m not giving much away. How they end up in a car together and what will happen along the way is what makes this a great read. Throw in a visit to the deadbeat dad, Ed’s current trouble with the law, Nicky’s struggle to find his place in the world, Jess’s guilty secret and Tanzie’s quest and this was the perfect weekend getaway read.
If you haven’t read Jojo Meyes before, you should definitely give her a try. So often women’s fiction is made out to be brainless fluff by critics, but this book shows just how much intelligence goes into writing a page turner. It’s nice to read a book where you truly care about the fate of the characters.