This is the third book that follows the story of Louisa Clark, completing the series that started with Me Before You and continued with After You.
As this book begins, Louisa has arrived in New York to take a job as a paid companion to a wealthy young woman about her age.
She came on the recommendation of Nathan, who also worked for Will Traynor back in England. Louisa left behind her family, with whom she is close, and her new boyfriend Sam, because she wanted to follow the advice Will gave her before he died: “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” In addition, she is conscious of having boxed herself in for years doing what felt safe. “Now, she told Sam, “I guess I need to push myself. I need to know what I’m capable of if I stop looking down.”
But long distance relationships are tough, as Nathan pointed out. It’s not just the sex and jealousy, he points out. “. . . he’s not going to be the first person you tell stuff to. The day-to-day bits and pieces. And that stuff is important.”
She works for Agnes Gopnik, who is the second, much younger wife of Leonard Gopnik. Leonard expects Agnes to engage in a full schedule of social and charitable activities, of which Louisa must keep track and to which she must occasionally accompany Agnes. Even when Agnes jogs, Louisa is expected to go along. (Running, maintains Louisa, is like kale. It’s possibly good for you, but life is too short to embrace it.)
Agnes, a beautiful Polish immigrant, is shunned by her husband’s older, socialite crowd; they remain loyal to his first wife, and disapproving in any event of second “trophy” wives. Agnes is also greatly resented by Leonard’s 24-year-old daughter Tabitha and even the housekeeper Ilaria, who originally worked for the first wife.
In a call back home, Louisa explains to her sister Treena that Agnes acts very erratically, and Treena responds: “Hasn’t everyone got something wrong with them in America? Don’t they like to take a lot of pills? Unlike England, where Mum would have you go for a nice brisk walk.”
Meanwhile, back in England, Sam, a paramedic, has a new work partner, a young woman named Katie Ingram. Louisa finds out more than she wants to know about her because, as Louisa confesses, “Reader, I did the stupid thing. I looked her up on Facebook.” Katie is not only cute, but posts pictures of herself with Sam in which she is clearly flirting with him.
But Louisa has her own temptations. At a charity ball with Agnes, she meets Joshua William Ryan the Third, who is the spitting image of Will Traynor, and who takes an immediate shine to Louisa.
To make matters worse, Sam comes to New York for a weekend visit, and everything goes wrong. They part on a discordant note. Louisa intends to make it up to him when she goes home for Christmas, but arriving early, she looks through Sam’s window and sees an alarming domestic scene with Sam and Katie.
Upon returning to New York, Louisa loses her job over a misunderstanding, and she is suddenly not only boyfriend-less, but homeless and alone in New York City. But this is Louisa we are talking about. She never loses her wit nor her kindness, and it’s unthinkable she won’t find a way to overcome any adversity.
Evaluation: I loved this book, much more than the second in the series. Louisa is a character you just can’t resist, and by now she is done actively mourning (as much as one ever can be, that is) and is back to confronting life with all of the heart and enthusiasm she had when she worked for Will Traynor. She never lets anything get her down for long, and her pluck, fortitude, and compassion ensure it’s hard to get tired of this character, and easy to adore her.
Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2018