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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, July 5, 2011


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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel + The Secret Lives of People in Love: Stories + Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061661481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061661488
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Van Booy, a Frank O'Connor International Short Story award winner (for Love Begins in Winter), offers a tender, earnest first novel, in which flight attendant Rebecca Baptiste moves to Athens, Greece, where she meets George Cavendish, an American with a passion for languages and drinking. Their romance blooms quickly, but when Rebecca falls for a Welsh archeologist named Henry, George drinks so much that he stumbles in front of a car—Henry's car. Without knowing what they share, Henry tends to George's injuries, cementing an immediate and long-lasting alliance. But some time later, George sees Rebecca with Henry, and the shock of recognition leaves these three sensitive souls shaken, snapping George into sobriety and sending Henry adrift. When Henry finally returns two years later, after a devastating earthquake, both he and Athens have changed dramatically. Finally, his discovery of a journal that may have belonged to Rebecca makes him wonder how well he knew her. The rhythms of Henry's tender, damaged heart propel the narrative, and Van Booy wisely resists romanticizing torment, instead suggesting that grief—tied as it is to fate and faith—can give way to promise. (July)

Review

“A swift and engaging story...” (Wall Street Journal)

“His prose is music, and his characters are warmhearted, gentle, bemused, philosophical beings….It’s as if Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 30 has unfolded into a full-blown novel.” (Austin Ratner, The East Hampton Star)

“Van Booy’s writing rings with the proverbial pithiness of Oscar Wilde, the elegance of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the clarity of Graham Greene and the wit of Evelyn Waugh, conjuring a strong voice full of poetic, timeless grace of which much of the contemporary literary scene is starved.” (San Francisco Examiner)

“Van Booy’s writing seduces from the first page….He is a hugely gifted writer. More vitally, he has something to say.” (Portland Press Herald)

“There is...an integrity to [Van Booy’s] vision and a haunting element in his portrait of friendship and, ultimately, resolution.” (Daily Mail (London))

“[T]he exquisite prose and heartbreaking (but never hopeless) emotional honesty make it a worthy read.” (Daily Candy)

“Vivid and meticulous...the floweriness of his prose is skillfully balanced by his short, precise sentences. Intriguing.” (Metro (London))

“Atmospheric and anchored in its place. A book that is timeless but not rootless. Everything Beautiful Began After is highly sophisticated and absolutely sincere.” (Irish Times)

“How lovely to encounter a grownup romantic in Simon Van Booy….[He] is a lovely writer, and Everything Beautiful Began After is a kind book.” (Open Letters Monthly)

“Beautifully written, touchingly told, Van Booy radiates pain, fears, love and freedom on every page of this book.” (Passport)

“A tender, earnest first novel....Van Booy wisely resists romanticizing torment, instead suggesting that grief -- tied as it is to fate and faith -- can give awy to promise.” (Publishers Weekly)

“If F. Scott Fitzgerald and Marguerite Duras had had a son, he would be Simon Van Booy; this is a truly special writer who does things with abstract language that is so evocative and original your breath literally catches in your chest. This is a novel you simply must read!” (Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of Townie)

“Already a new-generation master of the short story, Simon Van Booy has now emerged as a newly minted master of the novel as well….Van Booy is a writer whose work I will forever eagerly read.” (Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)

Everything Beautiful Began After both creates and satisfies a feeling of wanderlust. Van Booy’s confident prose carries the reader over oceans and back again, into archaeological digs and airport hotels, and the romance at the center of the book stays vivid long after the story is through.” (Emma Straub, author of Other People We Married)

More About the Author

Simon Van Booy was born in Great Britain and grew up in rural Wales. He is the author ofThe Secret Lives of People in Love, Love Begins in Winter (winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award) and the novel, Everything Beautiful Began After. His latest novel is The Illusion of Separateness.

He is the editor of three philosophy books, titled Why We Fight, Why We Need Love, and Why Our Decisions Don't Matter. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, and ELLE Men, (China), where he has a monthly column. He has also written for the stage, National Public Radio, and the BBC.

Simon teaches part-time at SVA in Manhattan, and is involved in the Rutgers Early College Humanities Program for young adults living in under-served communities. In 2013, he founded Writers for Children, an organization which helps young people build confidence in their talent, through annual writing awards.

He was a finalist for the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, and his work has been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Customer Reviews

It's a good story that keeps moving, and is well written about characters you come to care about.
Doug Wold
From the first words 'Everything Beautiful' is lit from within by brilliant imagery and a lyrical quality.
mharvi
The ending felt a bit rushed to me and things seemed to be tied up a little too perfectly in the end.
Sarah Joyce Bryant

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By kbielinski on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This one-star rating has nothing to do with the book itself, which I thoroughy enjoyed. However, this novel is completely inappropriate for the Kindle. It includes a number of replicas of letters and postcards that are integral to the story, and I found it all but impossible to decipher them on the Kindle. Although I enlarged them as much as I could, I still had to use a magnifying glass to read them, and even then it was difficult. Amazon should really offer a caveat to those purchasing the Kindle version of this book. If I had known, I would definitely have ordered a hard copy, which I assume would have been easier to read.

Having said that, the book is intriguing, the characters are well-drawn, and the writing is good. It would be well worth reading on a conventional reader.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bhaskar Kahali on August 19, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first Van Booy novel that I read. That is also because Amazon recommends it to me. However, after reading the novel......I can just say one word.. awesome. I am not saying that the story by itself is fascinating...or it is interesting in the sense that it has lots of twists and turns. In fact, the story is fairly straightforward. The novel truly enunciates the fact that you can tell a simple story in simple way to make it `EXTRAORDINARY'. I generally don't read romantic novels. But it's the style of writing that did the work for me. I strongly recommend this book to all those readers who really like to read good books. Trust me...you will not be disappointed.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Joyce Bryant on July 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I fell in love with Everything Beautiful Began After after having just read the Prologue and the rest of the book did not disappoint. Simon Van Booy's beautiful poetic language is stunning and his descriptions require the reader to pause and take a deep breath to take them in. The characters are so well developed that one cannot help but love and care deeply for them. It is fascinating to watch as they argue over the existence of fate while we quietly witness fate take its toll on each of them. There is a sense of unpredictability, an unknowing that keeps the pages turning. Van Booy's use of different points of view also adds depth to this novel. It was a genius way to create various space and distance between the reader and the characters. The cover and deckle-edged paper provides the perfect package for such a beautiful and tragic love story.

The ending felt a bit rushed to me and things seemed to be tied up a little too perfectly in the end. This may be that I just didn't want the book to end. I was invested in these characters and wanted to spend more time with them. However, at over 400 pages, I understand Van Booy had to end the book at some point. Maybe he will write a sequel! If you want to be swept away into a beautiful love story with writing that literally takes you there as a silent witness to the unfolding lives of the characters, this book is definitely for you. I wanted to continue inside the world Van Booy created with this novel so much that I actually got up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because I couldn't stop thinking about it, and continued reading until it was finished.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By AvidReader on July 15, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just Loved the prose within this book, I just inhaled every page..Beautiful story line except for one thing..If you order the kindle version there are letters within the book that are IMPOSSIBLE to read so I missed out on quite a bit. Don't think this can be rectified unfortunetly.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Renee on January 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Simon Van Booy writes in a unique style of disjointed prose and changes from a third person point of view to a second person midway through the book as a deliberate literary device to underscore the division of his characters' lives before a significant incident and after that incident. It is a jarring and discombobulating shift; but extremely effective.

The biggest failure of this book is a lack of adequate character development. Instead, there an overreliance on descriptive prose and half formed self realizations. It is difficult for readers to care about a storyline when the characters are not sufficiently introduced. Again, this is the deliberate use of a literary device by the author and part of his story's development. Without spoiling the book for future readers, it can only be said that Mr. Van Booy has used this style to reveal how little we know about the characters and how little they knew about themselves or each other.

There were many other uses of well-known tricks of the writing trade. Unfortunately, this type of overuse and deliberate writing causes the author to look like a pretentious technician. This is not a novel to read without thought, or for the pure pleasure of reading a well told story.

The author wields literary devices like a samurai wields swords.

A Brief Overview: The story is about two young men and the woman they love, the development of their friendships, and how the main character reacts to a life altering situation. It is set primarily in the Mediterranean, although there are portions that are set in other geographic locales.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By janet claffey on March 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a romantic destination tale to lure you from the frigid dreary days of winter, sadly there's more of the same-depressing, dull, and tedious. Everything beautiful began after I finished this book.
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