Melissa Senate Reviews Before Ever After
A former book editor, Melissa Senate is the author of ten novels, including her latest, The Love Goddess’ Cooking School, which Publishers Weekly says “reinvents comfort food.” She lives on the coast of Maine.
Before Ever After is my favorite kind of book: magical. It is a book in which the every day of life, of marriage, of calling a husband to ask him to pick up something on his way home, are forever changed by the extraordinary, the unexpected, the impossible.
Three years after the death of her quirky, wonderful husband, Max, Shelley is a young widow barely able to get through the day. Until a knock on the door brings a thirty-two-year-old man who claims to be her thirty-two-year-old husband’s grandson--yes, grandson--into her life. And he tells her that her beloved husband Max is still very much alive and living halfway across the world. It sounds impossible, but that is part of the joy of this novel: it is about a search for answers to the critical, and most basic, questions about life. It is about what should be impossible but because of the transformative power of love, isn’t.
Samantha Sotto takes readers on a journey--from London to the Philippines, and all over Europe--as Shelley and the grandson set off to track down Max. Along the way, Shelley recounts the package tour where she and Max met, years ago. Anyone who has booked a EuroRail pass or tried to live out of a backpack for more than a few days can relate to Shelley’s trip, and for those who have never had the chance, this is your next best shot. Most of us, bouncing about from Père Lachaise to St. Mark’s Basilica, return home with little more than a few tchotchkes and some great stories, but for Shelley, her life was changed from the moment Max’s tour-guide flyer caught on the heel of her shoe on a windy, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life kind of day. Had this flyer caught on my shoe, I would have been on that tour bus with Max in a heartbeat too:
Fancy Getting Lost? The Slight Detour: Veer away from the unexpected and lose yourself to the back roads of history on a road trip across Europe. Not for the prissy or the daft. Nutters most welcome. Good fun and excellent egg breakfasts included.
I went on that irresistible journey with Shelley and then on several more over the course of this remarkable novel. A journey of adventure, romance, history, magic. Long after the last page of this book, that beautiful journey has stayed with me.
“I was floored by the gutsy scope of this highly unusual love story. Before Ever After is one of those books that challenges the natural laws of fiction writing, and Samantha Sotto pulls it off in a frisky and highly entertaining way.” – Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of Juliet
“I was absolutely enchanted by Before Ever After. It's a highly original and engaging mix of romance, mystery and magic that will challenge everything you think you know about happily ever after.” – Jill Smolinski, author of The Next Thing on My List
"A smartly written romance, mystery and historical adventure all wrapped up in a page-turner that will have you guessing until the very end." – Adena Halpern, author of The Ten Best Days of My Life
“Exquisitely written and inventively told, Before Ever After is a beautiful, moving—and quite fun—exploration of what you think you know about your own life.” –Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School
"In Samantha Sotto's high spirited debut, a young widow travels to a remote and distant island to answer the question, what price do we pay for eternal love. It is a mesmerizing journey transcending time and continents, all to remind that there are many ways to live on forever and to immortalize a marriage. Note to readers: Curl up with jasmine tea and savor the warm, rich writing, as delectable as the recipes for love found within every enchanting page." -Saralee Rosenberg, author of Claire Voyant