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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, July 5, 2011
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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)
“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)
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Top customer reviews
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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!!!