Are you getting sick of the Jojo Moyes reviews yet? Because this isn’t the last one. I warned you: new baby = minimal brain input wanted. And that means finishing one book by an author and heading straight to the next. But your brains probably are more functional so to stave off the boredom, I’ll keep it punchy: This is the best Jojo Moyes book I’ve read (out of four.) It’s plum in her heartland of a romance quirky, upbeat but struggling young woman meets slightly damaged, not-gorgeous-but-certainly-appealing man.
The One Plus One centres around a car trip from the south coast to Scotland, with a motley crew including man under criminal investigation, maths prodigy girl and enormous, smelly dog. It’s quite a feat to make this main plot not only take up a whole book but do so with charm and momentum. There’s no doubting Moyes’ skill in unfolding a story and its characters at just the right pace, and she pulls her usual trick of slowly turning a baddie into a goodie. She’s expert at giving normal, struggling, very British people some of the charm as protagonists that we more commonly associated with New Yorkers and Californians in romcoms, without prettifying their lives. In fact, now I mention America, you can think of this book as the British version of (the amazing, the incredible) film Little Miss Sunshine: unlikely, motley crew on road trip for youngest girl family member to compete against the odds. So there’s a lot more rain, food poisoning and service stations – not to mention that dog – but its heart is in the same mad, lovable, wry sort of place.
I’ve read enough of these books now to be familiar with The Moyes Formula but that did nothing to limit the likability and comedy of The One Plus One. Despite my parallel parallel it doesn’t have the film potential of its more famous sibling, Me Before You (and it would make a crappy film) – but what it lacks in Hollywood factor and, frankly, a slight line in emotional manipulation/shmaltz – it makes up for in warm humour and varied characters. An easy, cheering choice for January.