EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER
By: Simon Van Booy
Pub. Date: July 2011
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, Electronic and Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction
Age Group: Adults
“What is a use of a book, without pictures or conversations?” I would first like to thank HarperCollins for sending me the ebook via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?” Looking for a romantic summer read? After reading the debut novel EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER by Simon Van Booy, I must say that I am now a fan. I guarantee you will be, too.
The powerful novel revolves around three people in Athens: Rebecca, a French flight attendant, who moves to Athens to paint, George, an American linguist who has moved to Greece to study the culture and language, and Henry, a Welsh archeologist who has moved to the same area to dig and discover Athens origins.
The beginning of EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER opens with a young girl reflecting on how her parents met. She doesn’t tell us who her parents are but compares their life before her to that of a caterpillar forming into a butterfly within a cocoon. The story goes on to relay the lives of Rebecca, George and Henry and how their lives connect. All three have journeyed to Athens to escape their pasts and find an inner peace. Rebecca, is upset her mother left her when she was younger, George drowns his sorrows in drink over a father who traveled and was never around, and Henry longs to forget a death of a family member when he was younger. All of them are searching for something missing in their lives and hope they can find it in Athens.
Rebecca meets George and they begin a tumultuous romance. They find comfort with each other, until Rebecca tires of George’s drinking and his erratic behavior. By chance, Rebecca meets Henry. But let’s not forget about fate. George, drunk and distraught over losing Rebecca, literary stumbles into Henry. Of course, he doesn’t know Henry is seeing Rebecca. Henry and George form a bond over archeology….bringing Rebecca into the picture changing all of their lives forever.
“We’re all mad here.” EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER is filled with quiet, stolen moments between the characters, a love of language, culture and history which comes to life off the page. Van Booy describes the lives of the three characters, their backstories, and other minor characters which come in and out of the picture in exquisite detail.
I enjoyed learning the character’s secrets, especially since they wanted to keep the secrets hidden from each other as long as possible so they didn’t spoil their relationships, but they soon were revealed as the story progressed. I once read the best way to create memorable characters is to give them a secret. Van Booy is a master of this technique. Once the secrets are revealed, I believe it makes Rebecca, George and Henry understand what each of them has been going through, but also makes them question if they really know the person beyond the surface.
The setting, lush and vivid, is very much a character of EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER. I felt like I was in Athens, listening to the sights and the sounds of the city while eating a piece of sticky Baklava with a glass of sweet Greek wine.
The story is beautifully told. It often moves at a leisurely pace as if taking a walk through a park on a clear spring day, but then picks up in certain places moving quickly like a busy marketplace. Most of the chapters are long, some are short. It’s best to savor EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER with each turn of the page. I never knew what to expect or where Van Booy was taking me with the story, but it’s a work of art. Even after closing the novel, I can’t stop thinking about it The cover of lovers standing in a darkened alleyway is perfect.
“Sentence first – verdict afterwards.” I’m giving EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL BEGAN AFTER 4 “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Characters” for being breathtakingly lovely!
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