Saturday 23 November 2013

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One single mum

With two jobs and two children, Jess Thomas does her best day after day. But it's hard on your own. And sometimes you take risks you shouldn't. Because you have to . . .

One chaotic family
Jess's gifted, quirky daughter Tanzie is brilliant with numbers, but without a helping hand she'll never get the chance to shine. And Nicky, Jess's teenage stepson, can't fight the bullies alone. 
Sometimes Jess feels like they're sinking . . .

One handsome stranger
Into their lives comes Ed Nicholls, a man whose life is in chaos, and who is running from a deeply uncertain future. But he has time on his hands. He knows what it's like to be lonely. And he wants to help . . .

One unexpected love story
The One Plus One is a captivating and unconventional romance from Jojo Moyes about two lost souls meeting in the most unlikely circumstances

The One Plus One is Jojo Moyes' eleventh novel and will be published by Penguin on 27 February 2014.

Meet Jess, a single mother who really does try her best.  Sometimes it seems that her best is just not good enough.  She has two jobs, and two children - and a huge, horse-sized dog named Norman.  Her son; Nicky - who is really the son of her ex Marty's ex partner (are you following?), is constantly beaten up by the local bullies.  Nicky wears black eyeliner, tight jeans and spends most of his life shooting virtual aliens in a world created on the internet.  Tanzie, or Constanza (to give her full name), is gifted and talented, a maths genius and Jess is determined that she will not follow in Nicky's footsteps to the local comprehensive school, and to a life of suffering created by bullies.
And then there is Norman.  Norman, the oversized dog, a mass of fur who drools and farts, sleeps and eats and protects his little family with unfailing loyalty.

Meet Ed.  An accidentally successful businessman.  Accidentally because he'd rather be back at the creating stage.  Ed enjoyed life when it was just him and his best friend Ronan, designing and creating software. Since the 'suits' took over the business and Ed and Ronan got rich, his life has felt a little bit like a dream.  Money seems to have brought him little except an ex-wife, an empty house and a flash car.

When despair hits Jess and she does something totally out of character, and Ed stops to help out at a road traffic accident one dark evening, they find themselves flung together at the beginning of a journey that will change all of them, forever.    And so, the reader accompanies them on their long and very slow journey to Scotland, driving no more than 40mph, stopping along the way for sandwiches and toilet breaks and coping with Norman's flatulence, Tanzie's travel sickness and a bad case of a dodgy kebab.

I've been a fan of Jojo Moyes for over ten years and I particularly love the diversity of her books, she doesn't write to a formula - she creates stories and characters that are often flawed, but always engaging, realistic and warm.
I have enjoyed every single one of her novels, I have a particular soft spot for The Peacock Emporium which was published way back in 2004, but my favourite of all is The Girl You Left Behind from 2012.  I was incredibly excited to receive a copy of The One Plus One from the Real Readers programme and started reading with huge anticipation.

I have to admit that it took me a while to get totally involved with this story, and with the characters of Jess and Ed, although I immediately fell hook line and sinker in love with the children, and with Norman of course. However, there is a scene between Jess and Ed, during their long journey to Scotland where they just click, and it was at that precise moment that I clicked too.  From that very moment on, I fell in love with the whole story, and from there I could hardly bear to put the book down for a moment.

Jojo Moyes writes with compassion and honesty.  She gets right into the heart of her characters, and their circumstances.  The reader grows to love these people and care for them and ache for them as they are thrown curveball after curveball, but continue to bounce back.   Jess has led a life of hardship and disappointment yet her belief that 'we will work something out' continues to shine through.  The children; Nicky and Tanzie, despite their difficulties remain positive about their future, and this is all down to Jess.  Ed is a good man, he's been shafted during his rise to success and has become jaded, but Jess and her family show him that there are still good, honest people in the world.

The One Plus One is a love story, it is a family story, it is a story of hope and most of all it is a story that shows that simple acts of kindness can make the power of difference, no matter how difficult things are. Jojo Moyes perfectly captures the tiny things in life that have the biggest impact, she expertly brings to life the blossoming of relationships.

I laughed, I sighed and yes, I cried.  When I closed the book for the last time I felt as though I'd lost a little part of me, that's how much this story and these characters will get under your skin.

The One Plus One is another triumph for an author who is, and deserves to be at the top of her game. Bravo!

Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and grew up in London. After a varied career including stints as a minicab controller, typer of braille statements for blind people for NatWest, and brochure writer for Club 18-30 she did a degree at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. In 1992 She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to attend the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University, and apart from 1994 when she worked in Hong Kong for the Sunday Morning Post, she worked at The Independent for ten years, including stints as Assistant news editor and Arts and Media Correspondent.
She has been a full time novelist since 2002, when her first book, Sheltering Rain was published. She lives on a farm in Essex with her husband, journalist Charles Arthur, and their three children. She has won the Romantic Novelists' Award twice, and her book Me Before You gained the highest number of votes ever submitted in the Richard and Judy list.

For more information about Jojo Moyes and her books, visit her website, follow her on Twitter @jojomoyes


  1. so glad this picked up for you Anne, I agree about the clicking and I loved Norman


  2. So pleased you eventually gelled with this book and enjoyed it as much as I did.

  3. I absolutely adored Last Letter From Your Lover and Me Before You. The Girl You Left Behind was also very good. I'm looking forward
    to reading this one.

  4. I finished it last night and liked it.