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Almost Paperback – June 23, 2002

3.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Acid humor and piercing insight mark this novel about death, divorce, exes, lovers and surrogate children on and off a snooty East Coast island. In a kaleidoscopic display of shifting perceptions, Benedict (Slow Dancing) chronicles the simultaneously sardonic and self-lacerating attempt of struggling novelist and celeb-bio ghostwriter Sophy Chase to come to terms with the death of her almost-ex-husband Will, a former CIA agent. When the phone call comes, Sophy is in bed with her lover, British art dealer Daniel Jacobs, in her New York City apartment. Despite deepening affection between her and his four adopted Vietnamese children, Sophy and Daniel's couplehood is one of convenience. When Sophy returns to Swansea, the island off the coast of Massachusetts where she lived with Will, she must face the fallout of his death possibly by suicide, possibly her fault without Daniel. But she is hardly alone. Surrounded by friends (gay funnyman Henderson, ex-lover and celebrity defense lawyer Evan Lambert), possible enemies (her two adult ste-daughters and their mother) and a host of island acquaintances straight out of Town and Country, Sophy waits for the coroner's report to clear up the central mystery of Will's death. Meanwhile, several more mysteries develop: Who is Crystal Sparrow, and why did she leave a message on Will's answering machine just before he died? Where is Sophy's mutt, Henry? What terrible news did Evan and his wife receive the evening Sophy arrived at their island home? Benedict masterfully follows each small drama with a satisfying, emotional release. The effect is page-turning suspense that doesn't skimp on characterization or intelligence. Such versatility makes it equally suitable for a day at the beach or a few concentrated hours in a more sober setting. Author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A quick-witted and beautifully crafted novel." -- Peggy Butler.
Booklist, ALA

"ALMOST is the most engrossing novel I've come across in a long time."--Jeff Giles Newsweek

"Benedict captures finely tuned calibrations of feeling... [She] seems to understand humor's real function:...to get us through the day."--Claire Dederer Newsday

"Benedict masterfully follows each small drama...The effect is pageturning suspense that doesn't skimp on characterization or intelligence." Publishers Weekly

"Benedict's writing is sharp and insightful, and her characters live and breathe." Library Journal

"This is a beautifully written, fiercely intelligent novel."--John Hough, Vineyard Gazette

"ALMOST is a fast-paced, funny, and splendidly intelligent drama...I relished every page."--Edmund White

"ALMOST is a novel of amazing intimacy, written with clear-eyed intelligence, precision, and wit."--John Casey
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618231617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618231614
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,985,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Sanderford on July 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
As an avid reader, it is embarrassing to admit when I've bought a book at the simple prompt of a beautiful cover at a well-placed exit, but that's exactly what Ms. Benedict's book and a bookstore combined to do. I thought from the first page that I would enjoy the change of pace of a more directly sexual main character, and I was right. (As an aside, I had been reading far too many classics lately.) From start to finish, this is a great read. At times the author depends a bit too much on foreshadowing, but I have come to think that may have been exactly as she intended, for her main character is an author who ghost writes celebrity tell-alls, which are notorious for using old tricks as page-turners. All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story. It is a beautiful look at a complicated life caught during an extraordinarily complicated time. If you enjoy reading about real people and real lives, this is a great summer read. If you'd rather read a romanticized view of marriage and relationships, this is probably not your style. For me, it was well worth the price of admission, and I'm 'almost' sure you'd like it too. :)
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By A Customer on August 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Almost is Benedict's most intriguing novel. On its surface, it's a mystery narrative of a woman's search to find the answer(s) for her almost-ex-husband's sudden death. Beneath the surface, the novel is a a rich mixture of tragedy, comedy and suspense as Sophy Chase searches for the truth of her own emotional life, which (of course) lies deeper than her pleasure at finding a lover with prodigious ability. She grapples with fulfilling her maternal instincts and succeeds, almost, at the book's end. This novel is a wonderful read--a humorous yet poignant page-turner--set against the backdrop of a fictional Martha's Vineyard, with a Cape Cod caste of secondary characters who are drawn in fine detail from the celebrity lawyer to the alcoholic islander.
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By A Customer on August 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
It is rare for me to read a novel that crackles with intensity and insight, and pulls me complusively along from page to page - Almost did that completely. The book is wickedly funny and smart, but the best part is the strength of the emotions and the precision of the descriptions of them. I laughed out loud many times, and if I weren't a man, I would have cried a few too.
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Format: Paperback
This book grabbed me from the first sentence and I loved it. The story of Sophy Chase and her almost husband takes you to Swansea, her twin stepdaughters, the first wife, and the sharply written summer (versus all year round) island life. You also get the story of her almost-boyfriend and her almost status as a stepmother to 4 adopted children, with the sharpest focus on Vicky who disappears for a few days during a particularly difficult time in Sophy's life. It might sound complicated, but it works. This is great read, it may be a fast read, but Elizabeth Benedict's characters stay with you. I am so glad I found this book!
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Format: Paperback
I read this book on the heels of "Martin Sloane," which coincidentally is about the nature of love--and of life--as well. It was refreshing to pick up two books that weren't about family dysfunction, but about honest questing, about finding our way through this maze of living a life. We do encounter troubles; we do find ourselves with unanswered questions, with doubts, with wonderings; we do become entangled, for many reasons, some of them good ones, some of them bad. Children are important. Remaining true to ourselves is crucial. And in the end, love rules.
I enjoyed this book very much. It's funny, rueful, thoughtful. It doesn't try to spell out answers, but it does suggest them. Nothing hard and fast, but the soft sort of answer that somehow brings peace. I highly recommend "Almost."
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Format: Paperback
Sophy Chase is almost divorced, almost committed to her new relationship, and almost a mother to her boyfriend's children. Almost... but not quite! When her soon-to-be ex-husband is found dead in their home on Swansea Island, Sophy must return to confront her past AND future. Add to this, the disappearance of a small child last seen in Sophy's company and you have a potboiler of a novel. Tension-filled elements contrast with the peaceful island setting (an amalgum of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard) making this a great summer read. Benedict's novel never leads you in a direction you're expecting, which is why ALMOST is refreshing from start to finish.
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By A Customer on August 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Picked this up because of the beautiful cover and was further intrigued by the Martha's Vineyard setting. So glad I did: what a delightful read! "Almost" concerns a nearly-divorced woman who must unexpectedly face her "husband's" death just as she thinks her new life is in place. Sophy's physical and emotional journey to Martha's Vineyard is manages to be both incredibly moving and often quite funny. And the secondary characters (a sleazy divorce lawyer, his mistress, some Vietnamese orphans)make "Almost" layered and lively. A must for Vineyard lovers!
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Format: Paperback
This is the first book that I've read by Ms. Benedict and I can honestly say that the cover attracted me to it. The story did sound intriguing however. It is a narrative/memoir of Sophy Chase's search for answers, in both the cause of her almost ex-husband's death, and the search for the truth to her own life.
Sophy is a struggling writer who has left her husband Will, a CIA agent. She has a new boyfriend/lover named Daniel but it becomes painfully obvious that their relationship is simply a physical one. There doesn't seem to be much love between them. She is with Daniel when she gets a call that Will is dead. She is on the next flight to Swansea to confront her past and figure out her future.
On the island there is a mix of characters, an ex-lover who is a famous lawyer, his wife, Sophy's step-daughters and Will's ex-wife just to name a few. Everyone is waiting to hear the report of Will's death, which was possibly suicide, and Sophy carries an enormous amount of guilt around with her.
Throughout all of this, there is much foreshadowing and many subplots. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough answers. I don't have to have everything clued up at the end of a book but this one had too many loose ends. It's a comedy of errors. I liked the suspense angle of the story, but again, not enough was adequately revealed.
The writing was well done and the characterization was excellent but the story just didn't hold up for me.
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