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Beginner's Greek: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, May 13, 2009
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Thankfully, I was wrong here. This book was actually pretty good. It didn't start out strong, though. I had to wade through several chapters until it found its rhythm.
One of the first things I noticed was that the protagonist of the story, Peter, didn't seem like any male I ever have known. The author characterized him in such a way that I assumed he was going to be rather nerdy throughout the book. Later, however, it was clear that Peter was just an upstanding and goodhearted guy who was also intelligent, witty, and well-adjusted. Somehow, I didn't get this impression when we first met Peter. He came off as neurotic, instead.
Another thing that really bothered me was everyone's excessive obsession with looks and contrived expressions and reading each expression and actively putting on a certain expression to elicit a certain response. This was very strange to read in the earlier part of the book. Yet, I can't really find any fault in it, because some of the whole forced expression thing seemed to ring true in the sense I could picture everything the author wrote. Also, towards the second part of the book, as the book really got better, this seemed to work more favoribly.
Overall, though, I really liked this book (towards the second half) and I liked how the characters were actually fleshed out and interesting. I found it easy to sympathize with the characters and began to actually cheer for them.Read more ›
Remember that work event you attended (by choice) at which everyone was witty and warm, rich and powerful, beautiful, well read, and articulate and found you equally enchanting?
Neither do I, and yet these things happen in Beginner's Greek.
It seems like Collins is aiming for that zany comedy feeling from the 40s. You know - boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, but then a series of events occur that keep them apart. Unfortunately, Beginner's Greek is set in modern times with characters who talk like they are out of the 40s, and it just doesn't work. I won't even go into the disbelief over a romantic man who longs to meet the woman of his dreams, and, when he does, puts all his faith in a hastily scribbled phone number on a torn piece of paper stuffed into his front pocket as the only means of contacting this goddess.
I kept trying to get into the book, and I kept trying to find something redeeming about the characters, but I finally had to admit defeat. The characters are flat and "sweet" to the point of being vacuous. The book is far too focused on the introspective lives of the characters, and no one actually seems to do or work at anything. There isn't one character here that I found sympathetic or likable. They all float around until something happens to them or around them, and then they sit around and talk about how odd or horrible or wonderful that thing is. Some characters simply drop out of sight altogether.
Finally, I can't help but comment on the overuse of BIG words.Read more ›
James Collins' story is like a painting or a beautiful photograph. Do you know how a painting or photograph, although depicting something real, can seem fantastical because of the play of light and shadow and mood and atmosphere? Do you know how a painting can be something unearthly, unreal, but because of the emotional rendering and quality can seem more genuine than a realistic interpretation? That is how this novel unfolds. It reveals itself through the crevices of the seemingly obvious story. It is like this big paradox. From the (wink wink) outer story the aperture widens, or even narrows simultaneously. You are holding a camera and you focus it on a field and in this field is an array of images. If you choose to look at it shallowly, then you will only see genus and species. But if you are sympathetic to your surroundings, there is a whole palette of beautiful colors and tones and textures to capture and captivate.
This is a page-turning love story. The characters are not meant to mimic "real" life. It is a romantic tale that hovers above reality but is an equipoise between absurd and exquisite. It is very human with spare but striking prose.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mr. Collins, we need more fiction! Articles in the Harvard Business Review and op-eds in the NY Times do not cut it. It's been over 8 years since Beginner's Greek was published. Read morePublished 24 days ago by weewinkie
I too always wonder who will come and sit next to me on the plane although these days there are hardly ever just two seats unless one can afford business class. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Geoffrey C Hazzan
I found this book recently in a box and realized that I had read it partially about eight years ago. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Daniel Holland
How often do you find a book w/ wonderfully drawn and thoroughly likeable characters who go through twists and turns but finally end up happily ever after? Read morePublished 19 months ago by C. Henig
There's a charming tongue-in-cheek quality to Beginner's Greek akin to a Woody Allen screenplay, beginning with the opening scene: protagonists meeting and falling in love on a... Read morePublished on December 14, 2013 by caraxida
I thought I would like this storyline but the author is very wordy (to an annoying extent) and the characters are hard to like because they are all sad throughout the novel.Published on September 9, 2013 by Rachel Lanchak
PARTIAL SPOILER ALERT. This book was cute in all the ways a book of this genre is supposed to be but entirely too predictable at times. Read morePublished on February 9, 2013 by Avid Reader
received read the reader sounder bored with the story and understandably I found the story boring and predictable but readablePublished on January 27, 2013 by sally rosenblum
I decided to read this book based on the promo on the dust jacket. However, it did not live up to its billing and the author falls flat on his face. Read morePublished on October 8, 2012 by Challenger Nuke