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 find the courage to follow your heart—wherever that may lead?
Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she discovers who she is and who she was always meant to be—and learns to live boldly in her brave new world.
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It was the mustache that reminded me I was no longer in England: a solid, gray millipede firmly obscuring the man’s upper lip; a Village People mustache, a cowboy mustache, the miniature head of a broom that meant business. You just didn’t get that kind of mustache at home.
I couldn’t tear my eyes from it. “Ma’am?”
The only person I had ever seen with a mustache like that at home was Mr. Naylor, our maths teacher, and he collected Digestive crumbs in his—we used to count them during algebra.
The man in the uniform motioned me forward with a flick of his stubby finger. He did not look up from his screen. I waited at the booth, long‑haul sweat drying gently into my dress. He held up his hand, waggling four fat fingers. This, I grasped after several seconds, was a demand for my passport.
“It’s there,” I said.
“Your name, ma’am.”
“Louisa Elizabeth Clark.” I peered over the counter. “Though I never use the Elizabeth bit. Because my mum realized after they named me that that would make me Lou Lizzy. And if you say that really fast it sounds like lunacy. Though my dad says that’s kind of fitting. Not that I’m a lunatic. I mean, you wouldn’t want lunatics in your country. Hah!” My voice bounced nervously off the Plexiglas screen.
The man looked at me for the first time. He had solid shoulders and a gaze that could pin you like a Tazer. He did not smile. He waited until my own faded.
“Sorry,” I said. “People in uniform make me nervous.”
I glanced behind me at the immigration hall, at the snaking queue that had doubled back on itself so many times it had become an impenetrable, restless sea of people. “I think I’m feeling a bit odd from standing in that queue. That is honestly the longest queue I’ve ever stood in. I’d begun to wonder whether to start my Christmas list.”
“Put your hand on the scanner.”
“Is it always that size?”
“The scanner?” He frowned.
But he was no longer listening. He was studying something on his screen. I put my fingers on the little pad. And then my phone dinged.
Mum: Have you landed?
I went to tap an answer with my free hand but he turned sharply toward me. “Ma’am, you are not permitted to use cell phones in this area.”
“It’s just my mum. She wants to know if I’m here.” I surreptitiously tried to press the thumbs‑up emoji as I slid the phone out of view.
“Reason for travel?”
What is that? came Mum’s immediate reply. She had taken to texting like a duck to water and could now do it faster than she could speak. Which was basically warp speed.
—You know my phone doesn’t do the little pictures. Is that an SOS? Louisa tell me you’re okay.
“Reasons for travel, ma’am?” The mustache twitched with irritation.
He added, slowly: “What are you doing here in the United States?”
“I have a new job.”
“I’m going to work for a family in New York. Central Park.”
Just briefly, the man’s eyebrows might have raised a millimeter. He checked the address on my form, confirming it. “What kind of job?”
“It’s a bit complicated. But I’m sort of a paid companion.”
“A paid companion.”
“It’s like this. I used to work for this man. I was his companion, but I would also give him his meds and take him out and feed him. That’s not as weird as it sounds, by the way—he had no use of his hands. It wasn’t like something pervy. Actually my last job ended up as more than that, because it’s hard not to get close to people you look after and Will—the man—was amazing and we . . . Well, we fell in love.” Too late, I felt the familiar welling of tears. I wiped at my eyes briskly. “So I think it’ll be sort of like that. Except for the love bit. And the feeding.”
The immigration officer was staring at me. I tried to smile. “Actually, I don’t normally cry talking about jobs. I’m not like an actual lunatic, despite my name. Hah! But I loved him. And he loved me. And then he . . . Well, he chose to end his life. So this is sort of my attempt to start over.” The tears were now leaking relentlessly, embarrassingly, from the corners of my eyes. I couldn’t seem to stop them. I couldn’t seem to stop anything. “Sorry. Must be the jet lag. It’s something like two o’clock in the morning in normal time, right? Plus I don’t really talk about him anymore. I mean, I have a new boyfriend. And he’s great! He’s a paramedic! And hot! That’s like winning the boyfriend lottery, right? A hot paramedic?”
I scrabbled around in my handbag for a tissue. When I looked up the man was holding out a box. I took one. “Thank you. So, anyway, my friend Nathan—he’s from New Zealand—works here and he helped me get this job and I don’t really know what it involves yet, apart from looking after this rich man’s wife who gets depressed. But I’ve decided this time I’m going to live up to what Will wanted for me, because before I didn’t get it right. I just ended up working in an airport.”
I froze. “Not—uh—that there’s anything wrong with working at an airport! I’m sure immigration is a very important job. Really important. But I have a plan. I’m going to do something new every week that I’m here and I’m going to say yes.”
“To new things. Will always said I shut myself off from new experiences. So this is my plan.”
The officer studied my paperwork. “You didn’t fill the address section out properly. I need a zip code.”
He pushed the form toward me. I checked the number on the sheet that I had printed out and filled it in with trembling fingers. I glanced to my left, where the queue at my section was growing restive. At the front of the next queue a Chinese family was being questioned by two officials. As the woman protested, they were led into a side room. I felt suddenly very alone.
The immigration officer peered at the people waiting. And then, abruptly, he stamped my passport. “Good luck, Louisa Clark,” he said.
I stared at him. “That’s it?”
I smiled. “Oh, thank you! That’s really kind. I mean, it’s quite weird being on the other side of the world by yourself for the first time, and now I feel a bit like I just met my first nice new person and—”
“You need to move along now, ma’am.”
“Of course. Sorry.”
I gathered up my belongings and pushed a sweaty frond of hair from my face.
“And, ma’am . . .”
“Yes?” I wondered what I had got wrong now.
He didn’t look up from his screen. “Be careful what you say yes to.”
Excerpted from "Still Me"
Copyright © 2018 Jojo Moyes.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
1. In Still Me, Lou has crossed the ocean to New York City—the first time she’s been to America. As a Brit herself, Moyes spent time in New York researching the city for the novel. Do you think she’s done a good job portraying New York City and the mannerisms of Americans? What details might Moyes have focused on if Lou had visited your own city or town?
2. Agnes bemoans her relationships with her old friends, telling Lou she has fallen out of touch with them since marrying Mr. Gopnik. She says her new wealth—and the financial disparity among her friends—is the culprit. Has money ever created a rift between you and a friend? If so, how did you resolve it? If unresolved, what did you learn from the experience?
3. Family is a prominent theme in the book. Lou often feels at odds with being so far away from her close-knit family, which became especially poignant with Grandad’s death, while the Gopnik clan attempts to balance the strong attitudes—and secrets—among their own. Meanwhile, Mrs. De Witt is lucky enough to reclaim her long-lost family, finding support where there once was none. Did you recognize elements of yourself and your family within any of these relationships? Did you think Moyes portrayed the dynamics accurately?
4. Near the very end of the book, Lou writes to Sam, “All my life I’ve ended up looking after other people, fitting myself around what they need, what they wanted. I’m good at it.” Yet she makes the choice to follow her own dream, to put herself first for once. Do you know anyone who is like Lou in this way? Have you seen others take advantage of people who are like Lou?
5. Lou and Sam have a turbulent long-distance relationship. Lou wants them to write to each other by snail mail, which she thinks is utterly romantic and will keep them connected. He resists, and it becomes a point of contention between them. Have you ever had a long-distant relationship? Did it work? If not, why not? What could Lou and Sam have done differently in order to save their relationship?
6. In the very last scene, Lou is scrambling to find Sam, desperate to locate him and in a panic that he won’t show—how do you envision the rest of Lou’s story after this scene? Where does she go—and grow—from here?