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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, July 5, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
“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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
The writing is fine but the plot left me cold. For me there was something missing for the entire book that I just could not quite put my finger on.
The three main characters are simply not real enough and I couldn't quite "get" why George had to have a drinking problem...why Rebecca had to vanish so dramatically quite early in the book and why Henry acted in such a bizarre way in his grief. My goodness....he barely knew the woman and yet it took two years of utter madness to come to terms with his loss.
Nothing in the plot really adds up and if there was a hidden message here I didn't get it.
Perhaps that is my downfall but I couldn't recommend this rather weak attempt at something I'm not quite sure of!!!
I very much enjoyed the book, but at times the structure seemed too forced and got in the way of my ability to focus on the progression of the lives, transformation and mental state of the characters. That said, I recommend Everything Beautiful Begins After as a provocative, read that uses deceptive simplicity to convey a profound examination of inner life.