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If Only It Were True Mass Market Paperback – February 27, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the book, by a French architect based in San Francisco, that made a huge Hollywood deal, and then a seven-figure sale to Pocket Books. It's an interesting study in the difference between a movie concept and a novel. One can imagine it as an offbeat romantic comedy on the screen, with charismatic actors and some nifty special effects, but as a book it's slight and one-dimensional--and it doesn't help that Levy has no ear whatsoever for American speech patterns. The gimmick at the heart of the story is a mixture of the movie notion of "meeting cute" and the Invisible Man tradition. Arthur, a young architect in San Francisco, finds a beautiful girl hiding in the closet of an apartment he has just bought. The problem is, only he can see her; she is, in fact, a spirit emanation of Lauren, a nurse who is lying in a coma at a nearby hospital after a near-fatal accident; the apartment used to be hers. After initially rejecting her explanation, Arthur begins to fall for Lauren, and determines that he must remove her comatose body from the hospital before her grieving mother can bring herself to cut off her life support. Helped by his skeptical business partner, Arthur accomplishes this with a borrowed ambulance and Lauren's knowledge of how the hospital works. Then the "body," along with the attendant invisible Lauren, is spirited away to the Carmel hideaway Arthur has kept since his beloved mother's death from cancer. (Life with mother is rendered in a series of saccharine scenes that would embarrass a maker of life insurance commercials.) George Pilger, one of the most improbable American police inspector ever to grace the pages of a novel, gets onto Arthur's escapade and goes down to Carmel to confront him. Will Arthur be arrested? Will Lauren die? In a gentle fable like this, there can be no real surprises. What is surprising is that so slender a tale, which actually reads more like a draft of a screenplay, should have appeared as an (almost) full-length book. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-First-time novelist Levy scored a bestseller with this book in his native France. It is a light, frothy tale of love conquering all, even a coma. Lauren Kline, a medical resident at San Francisco Memorial Hospital, is young, beautiful, and content with her life. Then a faulty steering mechanism in her old clunker of a car causes her to suffer head injuries in a shattering car accident. As she later explains, she could hear everything around her in the hospital recovery room, but could neither move, see, nor speak. She learns that she is languishing in a coma, having somehow survived being pronounced dead. Enter Arthur, an architect and partner in a restoration firm, who recently moved into an apartment and finds it comes equipped with an unexpected bonus-Lauren. Well, her spirit, anyway, since her body continues to reside in the very hospital in which she worked. She's not dead, so the apartment-dwelling Lauren is not actually a ghost, and she seems to have form and substance, but only Arthur can see and hear her. Readers learn that for months she has been psychically transporting her spirit all over the city until she finally comes back to her own apartment-now Arthur's. This feel-good story is an easy and engrossing read, and it should be particularly popular with teen girls.
Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; Revised edition (February 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743406184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743406185
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,775,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After working for the Red Cross for six months and managing an architecture firm, Marc Levy wrote his first novel, If Only It Were True, which was published in France in 2000 and in the U.S. in 2001. The novel became an immediate bestseller in France as well as overseas. It was made into a film by Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks in 2005.

Since then, Marc Levy has written 15 novels: Finding You (2001, adapted for television in 2007), Seven Days for an Eternity (2003), In Another Life (2004), If Only It Were True 2 (2005), London, Mon Amour (2006, adapted into a feature film in 2008), Children of Freedom (2007, also published as a graphic novel in 2013), All Those Things We Never Said (2008), The First Day and The First Night (2009), The Shadow Thief (2010), The Strange Journey of Mr. Daldry (2011), Replay (2012), Stronger than Fear (2013), and his most recent novel, Another Idea of Happiness (2014).

His work has been translated into 49 languages and has sold over 31 million copies worldwide.

In addition to his novels, Levy has written short stories and directed the film Nabila's Letter for Amnesty International. He has also written song lyrics for various artists, including Johnny Hallyday.

Customer Reviews

Throughout the entire book, I just couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.
H. Lawrence
The title caught my eye while reading an article in PREMIERE magazine that Spielberg had purchased the film rights to do a movie based on the book.
Michael J. Armijo
I thought the premise of this book was interesting, but it turned out to be a little trite and with awfully large holes in the plot.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on April 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a cute book ~~ if you're looking for something light and fluffy, then this would be the book. I managed to finish it in a day ~~ and it's a darling little book.
Lauren goes into a coma after a serious car accident and months later, Arthur moves into her apartment. Just as the doctors and Lauren's mother get ready to take Lauren off the feeding tube, Arthur discovers Lauren in the apartment. Only, it's not really Lauren ~~ but her spirit. Amazed that Arthur could see her, the adventure begins. From stealing a body out of the hospital to Arthur's confrontations with his best friend to scenes in restaurants ~~ it is an entertaining book.
It is a romantic ghost story. Every woman wants to be like Lauren and every woman wants Arthur to be in their lives. There isn't much substance to the book ~~ but like I said, if you're looking for a cute story, this would be it. It is well-written and Levy has a talent for describing houses (could it be that he is an architect in a former life?) ~~ among other things.
Going to the beach? Then I suggest you take this book along. It's pleasant and sweet ~~ you can't beat it with the pleasures of lying in the sun and listening to the mute roar of the ocean.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "steve_mcsheffrey" on May 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I thought of writing this review I knew I should come up with a negative about the book so the review would appear balanced, so here is what I finally came up with: Most of the characters are too nice to exist in real life. That should tell you how great a book this is. The best part is that the story ends the way it should. Not exactly the way I wanted but better than that. Already I have recommended this book to customers where I work and family and I just finished it this morning. If this story doesn't become a Julia Roberts blockbuster in the future there is no justice. If you read only one new author this year Marc levy is the one to choose!
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In a San Francisco apartment, a man hears a noise, opens up his closet, and finds a beautiful woman inside who claims she is a ghost. Arthur thinks she is either crazy or part of a practical joke. His thoughts are revised when she escorts Arthur to a nearby hospital where her comatose body lies.

Arthur desperately wants to reunite her soul with her body, but his investigations prove futile. Her situation turns desperate when her distraught mother decides to pull the plug. Arthur, who is falling in love with Lauren, kidnaps her body in a last ditch effort to save her life.

IF ONLY IT WERE TRUE is a beautiful love story that will appeal to fans of romance, supernatural fiction, and adult fairy tales. The hero turns into a modern day Don Quixote willing to fight windmills to save the woman he loves. The heroine has the spirit of a warrior as her mental well being allows her to accept a bleak future as long as she can enjoy today with Arthur. Marc Levy is a talented author who provides his readers with an uplifting work.

Harriet Klausner
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Traci D. Haley on July 28, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Arthur is a young architect who just moved into a new apartment. One evening he discovers a woman hiding in his bathroom closet. The woman - Lauren - is surprised Arthur can see and hear her. She tells Arthur that her physical body is in a coma and has been for six months. Her "spirit" was somehow separated from her body. Arthur doesn't believe her at first, but pays a visit to the hospital and finds her body. They get to know each other better and soon fall in love, but it doesn't last long. Lauren learns that her body is to be disconnected from the feeding tube and she will die. Arthur promises to help save her and that's when the fun begins...
This book is very well-written. It reminded me of "Message in a Bottle" by Nicholas Sparks. The writing style and the story are both very similar, although "If Only It Were True" is not as tragic as "Message." It's a very quick read - just over 200 pages long. I devoured it in an evening. Even if you're not a fan of romances, you should still try this one. It's sweet and guaranteed to leave a smile on your face, but it's not so full of sap that you will feel ill afterwards. There is a very interesting sub-plot concerning Arthur's mother; I would have almost liked to read more about it, but there was just enough to explain things and not so much that it overshadowed the actual story. The only problem with the book is that the character of Lauren wasn't nearly as well-developed as the character of Arthur. This is a minor point and you don't notice it much while reading it. "If Only It Were True" is a perfect summer read, so run to your local library and find a copy!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Burgoine on June 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was in the mood for something light and fun when I picked up this book, and I was well rewarded for the thought. "If Only It Were True," is a heartwarming little story with a fantasy touch.
Lauren is a doctor who has a horrible car accident at the beginning of the novel, ending up in a coma.
Months later, unknowingly living in her home, Arthur, a young architect, is interrupted in his bath when he hears someone snapping their fingers in his closet. He opens the door, and there is Lauren. He can see her, he can touch her, and he can hear her. She is a living ghost, but for some reason he is able to interact with her.
Far from being a typical ghostly-love story, "If Only It Were True," departs from the usual formulas, and actually manages to throw in some wonderful and thought-provoking concepts into the mix. Should Arthur allow Lauren's mother to turn off the life support machines and gain her mother closure and an end to the pain - given that her "ghost" might fade? There is much more to this read than meets the eye on first glance, and it is well worth the small investment of time. You'll smile, and feel warmed, by this book.
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