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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

ARC Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399562451/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=onderherose-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0399562451&linkId=25d10b1bd6a2424d4356ae7e14a0f514
Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the content of my review in any way.  Also, I am in the Amazon Affiliate program.  If you purchase this book from the links on this page I will get a small fee.  This is a great way to support this blog (hint, hint).

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she navigates how to stay true to herself, while pushing to live boldly in her brave new world.


Review:
With it's engaging heroine, Louisa Clark, Still Me, by Jojo Moyes, explores what it means to find purpose in one's life, and the sacrifices one is willing to make in order to do this.  While Still Me didn't have the emotional punch of Me Before You (and what book could ever top that!), I found this book very entertaining, and I did shed a few tears.

What I Liked:
Narration:
Anna Acton was a perfect choice for this book!  Her performance as Louisa was spot on, both wildly optimistic and self-conscious.  I was also impressed with her interpretation of Agnes, the Polish immigrant who marries the millionaire.  She is wistful about her previous life, and bitter at the frosty reception she receives from her step daughter, and the other wives.  I also enjoyed her American accents!

Characters:
If you've followed this series, you will already know Louisa, the plucky British twenty-something with her unique clothing style.  Even though she is happy in London with her new boyfriend Sam, she knows that a chance to work in New York is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  At Sam's urging, she takes a job as an assistant to a ultra rich family in Manhattan.  Louisa maintains her optimism and friendliness while being treated as an invisible person by her employer.  While I winced at her treatment, I knew she is someone who doesn't want to rock to boat.  She goes to extraordinary lengths to help others, particularly Mrs. DeWitt, an unpleasant elderly lady who lives across from her employer.

Mrs. DeWitt is an extremely bitter, and difficult person, complete with a nasty little dog, named Dean Martin.  I really enjoyed this character and how Louisa gets to know Mrs. DeWitt through the medium of vintage clothing.

Agnes, the immigrant wife of Mr. Gopnik, seems, at first, to be just another trophy wife.  The second wife of Millionaire Leonard Gopnik, her "job" is to look perfect while attending the many charity events that New York society creates in order for the rich to feel like they are doing good works.  She kind of reminded me of Melania Trump!  Her life is complicated by the fact that Leonard's first wife also attends these events.  While Leonard seems to have retained all the money, his first wife has the loyalties of all the other wives (perhaps because they worry that they, too, could bee replaced by a younger woman).   Agnes doesn't really get this, but Louisa is there to steer her safely through the shark infested waters.  Agnes is written as a very complicated person, not always doing the right thing.  But the reader understands her motivations.

Setting:   
Who wouldn't want to live in New York!  Throughout the book, Louisa gets to know both the glamorous parts of the city, and the gritty neighborhoods where everyday people struggle with keeping basic services alive.  I loved that Louisa connected with the other people who worked in her building, attending protests to keep a library open in an impoverished neighborhood.  She really is the sort of person who can float between the privileged and regular folks, with ease.

Fashion: 
Clothing plays an important part of this book, and I loved that!  In the second book,  After You, Louisa's depression is illustrated by her choice to wear boring clothing, and not her usual eclectic style.  Her creative clothing choices are back in Still Me!!!  I was so happy to see this, and for Louisa to find the amazing vintage clothing store (I want one of these where I live, please).  

While it seemed a little convenient that Mrs. DeWitt is a retired fashion editor with a home full of museum quality vintage clothing, I enjoyed how Louisa and she bonded over clothes, sewing, and the lost art of finely made garments.

Message:
I liked that several characters in this book have to take a good hard look at what they are willing to forgo in order to reach their goals.  Can Agnes leave behind a precious family member in Poland, in order to be married to a millionaire?  Can Louisa be parted from Sam so she can experience New York?  What did Mrs. DeWitt sacrifice to have a career back in the 1960's?  Even Louisa's mother has to figure out her changing role from stay at home mom, to empty-nester.  What will she do now?  I loved all the self-examination, and seeing how complex these choices are.


What I Was Mixed About:
Some of the plot devices were a bit cliched.  As Louisa returns to England early to surprise Sam, you just know what she will walk into.  And the ending was as hokey as any Nora Ephron movie.  I, however, love a sappy, romantic ending!  So it was all good.

                                                               
 
Rating: 




Release Date:  January 30th, 2018

Genre:  General Fiction

Publisher:  Random House Audio

Listening Length:  13 Hours and 20 Minutes

Page Length:  400 Pages

Source:  Random House Audio

Format:  Audio Book

Recommendation:  A must for fans of this series.  Romantic and full of the optimism of immigrants coming to America.  This was a fun, quick read.


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