Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything Beautiful Began After

I'm happy to report that I'm slightly ahead of the curve on this book. It's my understanding that it will be on tour in July, and as soon as I saw it on NetGalley I had to snap it right up.

Simon Van Booy has been a sentimental favorite of mine ever since his first short story collection, The Secret Lives of People in Love, came through when I was editing the Estella's Revenge E-Zine. Nancy from Bookfoolery and Babble adored it, and I followed shortly after.

I've said from the beginning that Van Booy has an old world feeling in his writing, and this one delivered in that regard. Set in Athens, Henry is a genius, drunkard, American, in love with Rebecca. Rebecca is a French ex-flight attendant, artist, in love with Henry. Henry is a British archaeologist, hottie, tortured soul.

And they're all tortured souls in some way-- haunted by death, betrayal, and crappy family. They find each other in a twisted love triangle heightened by the unlikely friendship that grows between George and Henry. Going into this novel, and from reading the blurbs, I really thought it would be about the love triangle. And that's not new! But it really isn't so much. A REALLY BIG EVENT, which I won't talk much about for fear of spoilers, changes the trajectory of this novel in a big, big way. All of a sudden it was no longer about a triangle, and it morphed into more of a story of triumph and overcoming grief and insurmountable psychological trauma.

This novel was gri-tty in spots. It wrung me out and left me feeling a little dazed, in fact. I seem to have read two of the most emotional novels I've ever had in my hands within a week of each other! ROOM made me tear up, as did this one, and both were laced with moments when I cringed, or cursed the characters in my head, or just felt downright pissed at the story arc. In a good way. I was invested.

Van Booy's writing shines in this one just has it has in his short stories. Because he does a good bit of description and sweeping figurative language, I was actually a little distressed that it would be too wordy and drawn out in the beginning. I was wrong, though! Dead wrong. The beautiful writing really helped sweeten the darker moments in this novel.

While I could pull out some quotes from the novel, I'm both lazy and a visual learner, so I'll share a video of Simon reading one of his short stories instead. His accent is dreamy, eh?



If you've ever wanted to try Simon Van Booy's work, you can't really go wrong with his short stories or this novel. But if you're more of a novel fan, I can't imagine that you wouldn't like Everything Beautiful Began After. If you don't like it, come back here and we'll Jello wrestle until I convince you.

Rating:
Snuggle -- Skewer

  • Pub. Date: July 1, 2011
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • Format: e-book
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061661488
  • Source: NetGalley

19 comments:

  1. Sounds good--I love a good love triangle, then you top it off by alluding to something HUGE happening, and that just makes me even more interested!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lola, I do what I can! I'm an enabler. The REALLY BIG EVENT knocked the crap out of me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ohmygosh, that last line nearly knocked me off my chair! No Jell-o wrestling necessary, of course. You know I am totally smitten with Simon's writing. I'm always, always thrilled to see yet another positive review of anything he writes, but doubly excited because I haven't read his novel, yet. You beat me to it!!! That's a first, eh? LOL

    ReplyDelete
  4. With beautiful prose and a compelling story, I'm definitely adding this one to my wishlist!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just read - and was blown away by - THE SECRET LIVES OF PEOPLE IN LOVE - so I'm very excited to check out his novel.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nancy is the one who put Van Booy on my radar, but I've yet to try his work. Between the two of you, I'm convinced I need to.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm so glad you wrote about this. When I saw your mention of it recently I remembered I have it on my Nook and maybe it was time to start reading, which I duly did, but I just wasn't sure about his language/writing style, but now you have convinced me to go back to it. You've also intrigued me by your rather cryptic description! So no jello wrestling necessary--I'm convinced. Just need to squeeze it in again. And yes, very dreamy accent! Will have to look for his short stories, too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well I happen to really enjoy writing that has an old world feeling so this sounds right up my alley. I will add this one to my wishlist for sure! And I then I will have to check out the collection of short stories as well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nancy, it is a first! I was so so so tickled when I saw this one pop up on NetGalley. He certainly didn't disappoint!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Meg, I hope you love it! This author deserves LOTS and LOTS of attention.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Suzanne, I'm thrilled to hear it! The Secret Lives of People in Love remains one of my all-time favorite short story collections. I'm looking forward to reading Love Begins in Winter as well. Kinda saving it for the next time I need a Van Booy fix.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kathy, I really think you'd adore him! I hope so, anyway. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Danielle, I'll be waiting for your thoughts on it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yayyyy, Jennifer! I hope you love it when you get around to it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This one sounds really good. I've seen this one around. I will check Netgalley to see if it is still available.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I can't wait to read this one myself, I'm glad to hear that it is so great, but of course not surprised :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm probably going to embark on this next. I almost hope I hate it because jello wrestling sounds hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  18. You've written a great review about my favorite book of 2011. I love it!

    And to answer your question about his accent, oh, hell yes, it is dreamy.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ooh I'm excited! I just got this one from NetGalley. I read Love Begins in Winter a while back and adored it. I can't wait to see what Van Booy does with a novel! So glad you liked this one.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I respond to comments individually by e-mail and/or here on the site. I value community above all else in blogging, and talking with you all is the highlight of my blogging day!