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Me Before You Book Club Questions

My copy of Me Before You had some reading group questions which I decided to answer with my thoughts. Note this post does contain spoilers throughout.

1) When Lou meets Will for the first time he is less than welcoming to her, even playing a mean trick that puts her on edge. What were your first impressions of Will and Lou? Did your opinion change over the course of the book and to what extent?

Our first impression of Will comes from the prologue where I thought he was a rich City boy who clearly has it all, looks, women, money and also knows he does. However when we next meet him he comes across as a shadow of his former self but also does have some very negative characteristics. He is quite aloof and cold to Louisa, making her want to just hide away in the kitchen and not speak to him.

Though I do think there is a degree of anger and bitterness that stay with Will throughout the novel, especially over the lifestyle he has lost. However you do empathise with him when he explains that since the accident he hasn’t been able to do anything for himself and hasn’t been able to make any decisions on his own. Ultimately his plan to go to Dignitas to end it can be seen as a way of him taking back control of his life so whilst my opinion on his personality didn’t change too much I did sympathise with the reasons why.

Meanwhile Lou comes across the complete opposite. She is eccentric but also warm and friendly and maybe comes across a bit scatty in some aspects as she has allowed herself to work in a café without even having a formal contract with her employer.

During the book we realise somewhat the Louisa’s personality has been a carefully front that she has had for a few years after a traumatic event happened to her in the hedge maze by the Castle where she lives. Though the event isn’t explained in detail we assume that she was attacked by a group of men in the maze which made me feel like she was a survivor and far braver than first impressions. She also at the end of the novel finally seems to have rediscovered her self-worth and sense of purpose through her relationship with Will. In many ways my impressions of Lou changed more than Will as she seems to go through a lot of character growth through this novel.

2) Will and Lou have a profound effect on each other’s lives. How do their lives change after they meet compared with how they were before? In what ways do they change each other?

I think Louisa’s life changes dramatically from having met Will. At the beginning of the book she is in many ways settling as the events in the hedge maze have made her recede into a shell. She has stayed in a job at the café’ that isn’t right for her, she has stayed with a boyfriend who she has clearly fell out of love with and the two are on completely different life paths to each other. She is also back in the little box room so her little sister can sleep in the big bedroom with her son.

However over her time with Will, Louisa becomes interested in learning about the world and seeing what it has to offer, especially when she knows she has only six months to change his mind. She also learns from Will the importance of living in the moment as tomorrow is never guaranteed and everything can change in an instance.

For Will the changes are more subtle but they are there. Though his journey through the book remains in one sense unchanged – when Lou meets him he wants to kill himself and at the end he still does. However I think Lou changes him as she is the first one to speak to him like a human being when she tells him to stop acting like an arse when he smashes the photo frames which I think draws him to her. Also when the two go to the concert there is a touching moment where Will doesn’t want to go back into the house as he wants to pretend just for a little while longer that he has just gone out with a beautiful girl, not someone in his employment to look after him.

I think also him giving Lou the money at the end and also helping her dad to get a job at the castle I think shows his level of empathy increased when I don’t think the Will we meet in the prologue would really be that empathetic.

3) When Lou first learns of Wills intentions to go to Dignitas to end his life, she is shocked that his mother Camilla, could be prepared to play such a role in her son’s death and thinks of her as heartless: a view shared by other characters such as Georgina and Lou’s mother. How do you feel about Camilla as a character? Do you think this view of her is justified?

I think my view of Camilla is quite hard to express. At the beginning I think we do see her as quite posh, stiff upper-lip and maybe even a bit stuck up when she speaks to Louisa.

Also when we learn of Will’s plans it does seem on the one level horrific that she wants to go through with it. However quite a lot of the time in the book she is written as clutching her cross which I think suggests that the situation is more desperate and she has far deeper, unexpressed feelings throughout much of the novel. It is also shown when she collapses at the airport when she realises Will still wants to end it all that she does care for him deeply so I think through much of the book by the end she is actually a woman on the edge and barely holding things together.

4) Both Will and Lou have experienced a terrible life altering moment – Will’s accident and Lou’s assault in the maze. How do their reactions to each other’s experiences compare? In what ways are their reactions similar/different?

I think in some ways both character do feel a sense of empathy with the others situation and the traumatic events that happen to each of them. 

I think when Louisa first hears about Will’s accident her main reaction is a bit coloured by Will’s overall attitude towards her but I think she does feel a degree of pity for the situation he is in which I think is Jo Jo Moyes way of challenging our perceptions around disabled people as Will isn’t really looking for pity but is looking for someone to listen and understand him.

Will also does react with some shock and sadness at what happened to Louisa in the maze. I think the shock comes from him not realising just how difficult the place has become for her as she avoids it but when he finds out why he is very upset over what happens. However I also think Will realises that though both events are life-altering, Louisa can over time try to overcome hers whereas his own accident has left him with a wheelchair and no real way out. 

5)  As his nurse and friend, Nathan is also a big part in Will’s life. How important is his role in the novel? How does he affect the dynamic between Will, Lou and Will’s parents?

I think at the beginning of the novel Nathan plays a very large part in Will’s life as he appears to be the only one who can at least speak to him on some level, whereas he is quite cold towards his parents.

However when Louisa arrives, Nathan first acts as as someone training her to do the job but as she spends more time with Will I think Nathan realises he can take more of a back seat role in terms of Will’s emotional care as Louisa handles that very well. I think the scene which best demonstrates this part is after the wedding when Will and Louisa return after spending the night at the hotel and he realises there is something between them.

I also think towards the end of the novel he acts as the point of understanding between Will, Louisa and his parents. He does have the conversation with Louisa where he sticks up for Will and explains that he would probably feel the same way as Will as there is unlikely to be a means of getting better for him. which I think helps Louisa recognise where Will is coming from and ultimately supports his decision to end his life.

6) Lou is very close to her family, despite her frequent squabbles with Treena. How important are they in the decisions she makes, such as her decision to take the job with the Traynor’s and keep it – even when she discovers why she is only contracted for six months – and her decision to go to Switzerland to be with Will at the end?

I think Louisa’s family is of the upmost importance to her. At the beginning of the novel we discover she has stayed at the café and later takes the job not just at the Traynor’s but in a variety of different places as she knows she is the only earner along with her father who may be unemployed at any time so as a result she has had to take this role on to keep her family safe. Whilst I do think the maze assault was a contributing factor I also think that not wanting to upset or let her family down plays a large part in her decision making, especially in the earlier part of the book. 

However I think during the time Louisa is with Will, though she still loves her family she does begin to spread her wings in little ways, for instance asking for the big bedroom from her sister and also redecorating it. She also spends more time in the library and begins reading and learning about things she might want to do as well. I think the moment where she agrees to go to Switzerland is in particular a defining moment in her relationship with her parents and mostly her mother as she decides she is going to go whether they approve or not and she also puts herself first in this situation.

7) Will and Lou come from very different worlds.  Will’s was one of success, privilege and ambition before his accident, while Lou inhabits a modest, simple and unadventurous world, restricted to the boundaries of the small town she’s lived in all her life. Do you think they would have fallen for each other if they had met in different circumstances?

This is quite a short answer but I think almost definitely not. In fact during the wedding chapter, Louisa actually says to Will when they are dancing that if he wasn’t injured he wouldn’t have looked at her twice as she would have been at the bar, serving drinks.

Whilst it is possible their paths may have crossed being in the same town and close proximity to each other, I do think they wouldn’t have had the same relationship they did have at all if it wasn’t for their specific circumstances.

8) Will’s right to die, and Lou’s determination to change his mind about exercising that right, is a theme that runs throughout the novel. How did you feel about Will’s decision at the end? Was it what you expected? Do you think the novel should have ended differently?

I think ultimately though I understood Will’s decision I did feel the most for Louisa at that point as you can see the relationship has grown hugely through the book and you do hope during the holiday that he has changed his mind so it is earth shattering when he says he still wants to go through with it.

I think Jo Jo Moyes also does a great job at this point by showing a couple of other characters perspectives which I think also makes you think he may be changing his mind and being more optimistic about the future.

However, I do understand his decision as Moyes also demonstrates how much Will has lost very effectively through the novel, he can no longer do any of the things he liked to do unless there is someone with him. He also has to suffer through pain, infection and indignities such as someone wiping for him when he goes to the loo, feeding him and putting him to bed.

He also did lose his girlfriend and chance of a life with her and though I think he does love Louisa by the end the sudden loss of that life must have been dreadful for him.

If you have read the book I would love to know your thoughts/opinions on these questions. Let me know down below what you think.

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