Monday 2 December 2013


Book review: The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

My edition: Paperback (proof copy), to be published on 27th February 2014 by Penguin Books, 436 pages.

Description: 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...


Jess is a single mum struggling to make ends meet for herself, two children and their dog. She lives in a council flat in a poor neighbourhood, she works two jobs and makes her daughter's clothes in an attempt to save money. But despite her best efforts her credit cards are always stretched to the limit and the money worries never leave her mind. So when her daughter, a maths prodigy, is offered a place at a prestigious school that can change the young girl's life and give her better prospects for the future, Jess has yet another thing to worry about. Because while they are offered a ninety per cent scholarship, the most generous one ever given, the remaining ten per cent is still well out of her budget. How can she give her daughter the opportunity the girl so desperately wants and deserves?

Ed is great with computers and he and his best friend Ronan have made a lot of money with the company they set up together. But they are not very good with financials, so they let other people run that side of the business while they still hold a large portion of the shares as the company's founders. Despite several failed relationships things seem pretty great for Ed as he loves his work and the routine it gives him, but when he's accused of insider trading and faces jail time, the world as he knows it falls apart.

Opposed to Jojo Moyes' previous novels I've read I didn't feel an instant connection with this story and the characters. Whereas Me Before You was an emotional rollercoaster and The Girl You Left Behind was that as well as immensely intriguing, The One Plus One was more subtle. At first it read like a formulaic romance novel, as I expected that the poor woman trying to support two children while barely making ends meet would be swooped up and saved by the rich and handsome computer whiz, but of course it wasn't quite a straight forward as that.

First of all, the characters are far more interesting than may initially seem the case. Both Jess and Ed have a lot of depth and their stories are layered, stretching much further than "single mum" and "computer geek". Jess' two children Nicky and Tanzie also take a prominent role within the novel and both have their own unique and very important stories to tell. Nicky's struggles in particular are a very real problem for teenagers in this day and age, and it was heart-breaking to see it all unfold and escalate.

The story itself while slightly slow at the start, as mentioned before, takes the reader by surprise in terms of intrigue and before I knew it the book had become so gripping it was absolutely impossible to put down. In fact, despite its fairly vast size I ended up finishing it in a single day (far too late at night too as reading this novel was definitely preferable to going to sleep).

At times the journey within the pages was reminiscent of the quirkiness of Little Miss Sunshine and other road trip adventures, but while there were funny moments to enjoy for sure, for the most part this was a powerful and heartfelt piece of writing rather than a comedy. It touched upon real problems faced by people just like you and me on an every day basis. Moyes writes about it with a lot of heart and optimism, the latter embodied by the cheerfulness and honesty of the character of Jess who remained a hopeful voice for the majority of the book despite the adversaries she was facing.

Ever since Moyes broke my heart with her astonishing novel The Girl You Left Behind (find my review HERE) I've been mesmerised by her storytelling abilities. With The One Plus One she once again proves she has that magic touch which can turn a concept that could've been ordinary or dull into something extraordinary and thought-provoking. With inspirational characters and a powerful story she tugs at the reader's heartstrings (the beautiful kindness of strangers as shown within this novel was a particularly moving moment for me) and makes them think about her words and the message underneath long after turning the final page.

You can pre-order a copy of the novel from Waterstones,, or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:



Twitter: @jojomoyes

Many thanks to Lovereading and Real Readers for a proof copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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