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The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Hardback copy from The Reading Room/Penguin
Rating: 4/5

Single mother Jess finds herself caught between a rock and a hard place when she comes across a wad of money belonging to the rude man occupying one of the holiday homes she cleans. Finders keepers, losers weepers, particularly when said money will be going towards Jess's gifted daughter's private school fund. However, what happens when the rude man suddenly finds his conscience and decides to help Jess during her hour of need? Does the end justify the means?

What a wonderful book! A lovely, warm story bursting with charming characters. This is the third book I’ve read by Jojo Moyes and this seems to be her shtick, which is a pretty decent shtick to have if you ask me.

The characters in this novel just jumped off the page. I love that I can always picture Jojo Moyes’ characters from just two sentences of description - and these aren’t usually physical descriptions. Sometimes you can be told every detail about how a character is supposed to look from their asymmetric bob to their Jimmy Choo stilettos but you still can’t picture them - or more importantly, get a feel for them - for love nor money. The supporting cast was very strong too - being a road trip story, there were plenty of eccentric characters dropping hilarious one-liners.

However, with regard to the main characters, Jess was a tour de force. If you liked Louisa from Me Before You, you’ll LOVE Jess. Headstrong, witty, and most importantly, full of love for her family and friends. Speaking of the family, Tanzie and Nicky were refreshingly three dimensional. I feel like the kids in these kinds of novels are always either precocious and highly intelligent - and rarely sound like children - or they’re the hurt, bullied quiet kind, used only as a device to explore ‘issues’. Yes, these tropes form part of Tanzie’s and Nicky’s story in The One Plus One but there’s so much more to them. They are most certainly kind, smart, and important (sorry - had to get that one in). Oh, and I cannot forget Norman - who was responsible for the huge lump that stuck in my throat for the last part of the book. Finally, Ed was not your typical knight in shining armour, which made the story all the better. He made some very silly decisions and followed those up with some rather childish, ‘woe is me’ type behaviour, which made him all the more accessible. Otherwise, he would’ve just been a Mr Darcy type and goodness knows we’ve had enough of those. I suppose it helped that he was a bit geeky too - being a tech entrepreneur and all. I don’t read much ‘chick-lit’ (for want of a better word) but is the tech entrepreneur the new ‘architect’ when it comes to love interests? That would make sense, given the current climate.

A number of themes were explored in The One Plus One, such as good neighbourliness (everybody needs good neighbours), selflessness, belonging, and 21st century blended family life. Oh and finding your other half, obviously. Although, I liked that Jess didn’t need to find her other half or be rescued. However, the most notable themes were: living on the bread line and our very British class system. Given all the debates that have been raging recently about ‘Benefits Street’ and our welfare system, this book couldn’t have been published at a better time. Jess is an example of what so many people are going through on a daily basis. Last year, thanks to research by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, it was reported that “more working households were living in poverty in the UK...than non-working ones - for the first time...” . Jess had multiple jobs but still struggled due to circumstances far beyond her control. The fact that she was forced to breaking point because she only wanted the best for her children is a scenario we can all empathise with. Her actions as a result of this, and the ethical questions it posed, added depth to what could have been a fluffy, easy read. Ethics were also brought to the forefront with Ed’s story too - business ethics. Also, our class system. Thinking of the ending, if somebody from a different background did what Ed did, would the outcome have been the same?

Overall, this was another excellent work from Jojo Moyes and I look forward to catching up with all of her other books.


  1. I'm definitely looking forward to this one. It hasn't come out in the states yet, but I've already heard some great things. I like that the characters are all multidimensional and I'm intrigued by the social class system in the UK which I'm not familiar with. Great review!

    1. Thanks Natalie! The Brits and Expat commenters on this Tom Hiddlestone post provide some interesting viewpoints on our class system.

  2. I finished it last night and enjoyed it ;)


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