I really disliked Moyes’s last book (that everyone else loved), so I wasn’t so sure about this, though it sounded right up my alley. And indeed it was so up my alley that I got this at the library yesterday at noon and had finished it by noon today. I couldn’t stop reading it! Oh, I just loved it.
Jess is a down and out single mom doing everything she can to keep it together. She is truly an admirable character-a kind mum, working any job she can, trying to find money to pay bills (and not succeeding), worried all the time about the kids, living in a terrible council estate. Her life is pretty crap. Her husband left two years ago, depressed and unable to help. The children are Nicky, a teenager who is an outcast mostly due to his loner ways and mascara. And maybe also due to the fact that Jess is actually his stepmom, so both his mom and dad have abandoned him. Tanzie is 10, a mathematical genius, and also someone who doesn’t fit in. There are horrible hooligans who bully Nicky and are truly criminal, but the police turn a blind eye. Then there’s Norman, the flatulent dog. Flatulent dogs are always good comic relief in a book.
Ed, on the other hand, is a super wealthy, very smart, computer guy who has become insanely successful. But, some unfortunate, somewhat accidental, insider trading has him in hot water. His life is falling apart. Jess cleans his holiday home and through a series of events he ends up driving her and the children and Norman to Scotland. The trip takes forever because Tanzie gets carsick over 40 mph. Their destination is a maths olympiad which, if Tanzie wins, will provide enough money for her to go to a private school and hopefully get a leg up out of their horrible life. So it’s a madcap road trip with a lot on the line, obviously Jess and Ed fall for each other, and everyone bonds. (This reminds me, a bit I think, of the movie Little Miss Sunshine.)
So, it took a little while to get to the road trip, the heart of the book. It was so heartwarming, as well as inciting all kinds of other emotions. Nicky and Tanzie’s father is a terrible excuse for a person and I was furious with his despicable being. Ed helping out Nicky was so touching and sweet. And at the end I just had to cry through a couple of chapters. Definitely a feel-good story, with some pretty sad, pretty realistic moments. I’d recommend this to anyone.