The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (Penguin)
by Patrick O’Connor
BE warned – this British road rom-com is as soppy as hell. But it’s a delight, a lovely, heart-warming, life-enhancing love story which will captivate you from beginning to end.
The plot is relatively simple. Single mum Jess Thomas is struggling to keep her head above water; her teenage stepson Nicky is a loner who is being bullied at school and daughter Tanzie is a maths prodigy who is offered the chance to compete in a Math Olympiad at the other end of the country.
Trouble is, Jess can’t afford to get her there. As well as working as a barmaid, Jess does stints cleaning houses and one of her client’s is Ed Nicholls, a wealthy entrepreneur who has been accused on insider trading.
A series of mishaps lead Jess, her family and their large flatulent dog Norman into embarking on a trek north with Ed in his flashy Audi.
It’s an unlikely combination and the fact that they don’t get on is not helped by Tanzie’s susceptibility to car sickness if they exceed 40mph, thus prolonging the trip.
But as their journey unfolds, the group gets to know – and like each other. There are some deliciously funny moments involving dreadful hotel rooms and fast-food kebabs alongside Ed’s dilemma in how to deal with a dying father and the possibility that he might be jailed.
Jess is also fearful that her feckless ex-husband may try and take the kids back.
As Jess and Ed try to come to terms with these trials and tribulations, their relationship begins to develop. On the face of it, this might sound a trifle corny and sickly-sweet but trust me, as each page is turned, your smile widens.