Jojo Moyes Tells Stories About Unpredictable, Complicated Romances

If you haven’t read anything by Jojo Moyes, you are missing out on romantic, complicated love stories. I first read Moyes’ work in Me Before You. It had just been announced that Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke would be in the movie adaptation and, being a firm believer in the “read the book before an adaption” theory, I read the book. I promptly cried buckets of tears, but they weren’t all sad tears. Since then I’ve read a number of her other works: The Girl You Left Behind, The Ship of Brides, and most recently her short story collection, Paris for One.

What I like most about Moyes’ stories is that they aren’t predictable. Yes, they are romance stories, and yes, there will be love and affection and that everlasting question of “who am I?” but there will also be a purpose. Moyes doesn’t put her characters in places that make you question how it happened. There is no feeling of reading and knowing these characters are here in the moment for an impending plot point. Her plot serves her characters and not the other way around.

Moyes has proved she is able to conquer time (well, time periods at least). In The Girl You Left Behind, the story flips from WWII-era France to modern-day London. The two main characters are both women separated by time and war, and feeling many of the same emotions: death, fear and hope. The story lends itself to a promise that we are not alone. Despite the barriers between time periods Moyes represented her characters accurately depending on what time period they are in. The Ship of Brides tells a generational story of Australia’s war brides fully immersing itself in real historical events and using them to shape a story about a future of love.

One of the recurring themes in Moyes work is loss, which I love. Don’t get me wrong: I hate real life loss, but when it happens to fictional people I can view it without grief or that cloud of emotion that weighs heavily when loss occurs. Reading about losses you aren’t experiencing gives you perspective for when it happens in your own life. Moyes doesn’t gloss over the difficult parts of life, and more often chooses to focus on stories that are difficult to read but still full of hope. Like in real life, sometimes the best change comes on the heels of heartbreak.

In her new collection of short stories, Paris for One & Other Stories, released in October, Moyes spends most of the stories focused on the lighter sides of love and loss. These stories aren’t about the devastating losses in life, but the ones that spur good change and forward momentum out of our ruts. Paris for One focuses on Nell and her first trip to Paris. She was supposed to go with her boyfriend but he bails on her, and Nell is forced to wander Paris alone. At first everything (the language, the streets, taxi drivers) is an excuse to stay in her hotel—until she meets a Frenchman, and things immediately improve. Soon, Nell decides trying to make the most of her trip is much more fun than wallowing.

The other stories in this collections touch on a number of subjects, some more light-hearted than I’ve come to expect from Moyes. At the end of each story, I found myself disappointed that the stories were over without a true resolution. Despite their condensed length, they were cute and fun short stories to read. Perfect for a little holiday reading by the fire with some cocoa or as a gift for your romance-obsessed friends!

Literally, Darling received a copy of Paris for One & Other Stories from Penguin/Viking publishing.

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