I don’t think my IRL friends call me sentimental, nor do my family or coworkers. And yet, I have been known to be brought to tears by some silly things, unexpectedly. The one that still baffles my husband is the movie I wept through during my pregnancy, but you know, those hormones…
So it may surprise some people that I read and quite enjoyed Jojo Moyes’s collection of sentimental and romantic short stories. This is the first try I read Jojo Moyes, but I keep recommending her to the people who come to my workplace library, and they return their books saying lost of great things and sometimes even thanking me (one big perk of the job!), so it was first taking my own medicine so to speak.
I didn’t have very high expectations, except that I wanted heart-warming stories and happy ends every. single. time. Because 2017 wasn’t all roses and sunshine, was it? The collection I read has 11 stories, but I read reviews that say 10 stories, and it seems that the 11th one that has been omitted in some editions is “Margot”. It’s a story I appreciated a lot because it is so uplifting, even as it acknowledges those lemons that life gives you sometimes. Margot is the old woman whom Em meets while stranded in an airport, crying over a failed marriage. She has some important lessons to offer. The Christmas list is a bit on the same vein, when a married woman meets a cabby while shopping for her insufferable mother-in-law.
Moyes’ heroines are ordinary women, rather shy and full of doubts, women who are taken advantage of or taken for granted, and with the traditional British stiff upper lip, they don’t say what they think, they endure in silence until the breaking point where they unburden their souls in front of strangers. It reminded of an expression by Gretchen Rubin, the “obliger rebellion”, when some people meet expectations for quite a while until they snap and refuse to do anything anymore. I somehow relate to that feeling, so that’s why those stories by Jojo Moyes spoke so much to me.
I also enjoyed seeing Paris as a totally romantic and idealized place. I still struggle with my new identity as a suburban woman rather than a Paris city girl. Now that we live outside Paris, the city of lights seems at the same time shinier and shabbier. When I lived in town I didn’t find it glamorous but with a bit of distance, I am now able to see Paris through the rose-tinted glasses of Jojo Moyes.