James Collins's Beginner's Greek
is a tender tale of how love conquers all, even if it takes longer than some might be willing to wait. Chick Lit fans especially will appreciate the uniquely male perspective that Collins, who spent most of his career as a journalist and an investment banker, brings to this modern fairy tale.
When 27-year-old Peter Russell boards a cross-country flight to Los Angeles, he fully expects to sit next to the love of his life. As luck would have it, he sits next to Holly Edwards, with whom he falls in love instantly. A lost phone number leads to years of wondering "what if," until Peter's best friend Jonathan introduces him to his new girlfriend, who is of course the same Holly of Peter's dreams. After Jonathan and Holly marry, Peter settles down with Charlotte, a Francophile who Peter tries to tolerate, but mostly just evokes feelings of pity and hatred. Of course, as with any fairy tale, the possibility for a happy ending is never truly out of reach, and Beginner's Greek is chock full of twists and turns to keep the action going.
While some of the dialogue may make readers feel like they just stepped out of a Victorian novel ("Oh no! I had no idea it was so late! Poor Peter! I'm sure you were coming to fetch me!"), Collins's characters convey enough depth to keep readers engaged through some of the more fanciful stretches of this captivating novel. --Gisele Toueg
From Publishers Weekly
The two young professionals of Collins's polished debut, Holly and Peter, meet on a flight bound from New York to L.A. They tacitly understand they are soul mates, and she invites him to dinner, but Peter soon discovers that he has lost the number Holly wrote on a page torn from Mann's The Magic Mountain
. With Peter's financial career and New York society as a mundane backdrop, years pass and Holly ends up married to Jonathan, a successful author and womanizer—and, conveniently, Peter's best friend. Still aching for his one-time seatmate, Peter marries Charlotte, a dull Francophile, because it made sense. Charlotte, of course, is also in love with someone else—a former flame, Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore. At Peter and Charlotte's wedding, Jonathan is struck by lightning, precipitating an endless series of events that changes the lives of family, friends and lovers alike—including Peter's boss and Charlotte's ex-stepmother. Former Time
editor Collins, 48, writes as if fully aware that anyone who saw any one of a thousand other romantic comedies will find the plot familiar: he plays romantic comedy clichés with an expert coolness. Anyone for whom chick lit is a guilty pleasure will find the tone here multiple notches above the usual fare. (Jan.)
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