She’s not got much, but she’s grateful for what she has: a job she’s just about clinging on to and a family who depend on her for everything. She knows she’s one bad day away from losing it all – and just hopes today isn’t it . . .
She’s got everything she always dreamed of – and more: a phenomenally rich husband; an international lifestyle; and . . . she’s just been locked out of all of it after her husband initiates divorce proceedings . . .
Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths. But after a bag mix-up at the gym, their lives become intertwined – even as they spiral out of control.
Each blames the other as they feel increasingly invisible, forgotten, lost – and desperately alone.
But they’re not.
No woman is an island. Look around. Family. Friends. Strangers.
Even the woman you believe just ruined your life might turn out to be your best friend.
Because together you can do anything – like take back what is yours . . .
When Sam and Nisha swap bags accidentally at the gym, one a Marc Jacobs knock-off, the other is the real deal, they are in very different places in life. Nish is living in the penthouse suite of the Bentley Hotel, even though her husband Carl owns several homes around the world. She is living the high life and has for the past eighteen years. She’s used to the best service and the bespoke experience, as Sam finds out when she opens the bag before a business meeting to find a pair of red Christian Louboutin heels instead of her trusty black pumps. Destined for a business meeting where she can’t turn up bare foot, Sam has to take the plunge and put them on. They’re the sort of shoes that get a woman noticed, not always for the right reasons. Sam is so easy to get to know and love, because if you’re a middle aged woman you’ve probably been there. She’s feeling the squeeze of still having a teenage daughter at home, while taking on the shopping and cleaning for her parents too. Husband Phil has been no further than the sofa for months, he lost his job and then his dad died. Since then Phil’s been suffering with depression, but won’t go for counselling or go to the GP for medication. He’s not touched the camper van he bought with the last of their savings and can’t even get up to let their geriatric dog Kevin out. Sam is greeted by dog mess in the hallway and a tired husband who immediately goes off to bed on her return. Yet this day feels different. When Sam notices clients looking at her shoes, they make her feel powerful. At the end of the day she’s made three out of four deals for the printing company, but will that appease new boss Simon who seems to have made a beeline for the only 40+ woman in the office?
Nisha is also facing massive changes since the bag swap. On her return to the hotel she is told that Carl has given orders to his security not to let her in. He’s locked her out of the penthouse, their bank accounts and his line of credit at the hotel. All she has is Sam’s bag and the clothes she’s standing up in. Left penniless and homeless after eighteen years, Nisha is mourning the loss of her life and the fact she can’t call her son in New York to let him know. Ray is in a mental health unit and usually they speak every day. Hoping to gain access to the penthouse and all of her clothes, Nisha dresses like one of the housekeeping staff but is mistaken for the real deal by Jasmine, a senior housekeeper who rushes Nisha through checks and has her working alongside her in minutes. Nish can’t believe she’s fallen from the penthouse, to scrubbing poo marks off a toilet bowl. However, she needs something to pay for the cheap B and B she’s found. All the time she’s scrubbing, she’s assessing her eighteen year marriage and realising she’s come out of it with no friends, no family and not a single person she can call for help. After a disastrous attempt to get her clothes, Jasmine stands up for her and fixes the issue. Once Nish has come clean, Jasmine becomes her guardian angel and takes her home to the little flat she shares with daughter Grace that’s covered with laundry and clothing needing alterations – Jasmine’s second job. When she finally gets to confront Carl she’s baffled by his position; there will be no financial settlement until she has the red Louboutins back. Nisha has no idea how to find them, but is determined try as it is the only way she can be reunited with her beloved son.
There is a little touch of romance in the novel, which was a lovely thread, but I loved the sense of sisterhood in the novel most, particularly those who come to learn the importance of the women in their lives. Nisha needs to learn about female friendship, having had only one friend in NYC who Carl persuaded her to give up. She’s stunned that Jasmine would help her and the depths of her generosity in giving her a job, a bed and a roof over her head. This flat that Jasmine shares with her daughter Grace is not large and what space they do have is often covered with clothes that she’s either laundering or altering. It’s amazing to Nish that someone who has so little, is prepared to share it. When Sam and her friend Andrea come along, the last thing Nish expected was to like her, but she’s also impressed with the way Sam lives. She notices that Sam’s home is a huge contrast to the way she’s been living. Having several homes and living in a hotel is impersonal. While she wouldn’t want Sam’s decor, she can see it’s a celebration of her family and their life together. This is something Nish has never had. She’s stayed in some of the most expensive places in the world, but has never had a home. Could this group of women become that for her? I loved how they all embraced each other and the times that they were all together simply leapt off the page. These are complex, funny and generous women who felt completely real and made me miss my women. I’m out of the habit of socialising after shielding during lockdown and I miss that camaraderie, swapping wisdom and having a laugh. It has inspired me to reach out to my friends and try to see them a bit more, because when it comes to those tough parts of life, it’s your women who hold you up and see you through.
Meet the Author
Jojo Moyes is a novelist and screenwriter. Her books include the bestsellers Me Before You, After You and Still Me, The One Plus One, The Giver of Stars, the forthcoming Someone Else’s Shoes and her short story collection Paris for One and Other Stories. Jojo’s novels have beentranslated into forty-six languages, have hit the number one spot in twelve countries and have sold fifty-one million copies worldwide. Me Before You has now sold over fifteen million copies worldwide and was adapted into a major film starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke. Jojo lives in London.