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Beginner's Greek: A Novelby James Collins
Synopses & Reviews
When Peter Russell finally meets the woman of his dreams he falls as madly in love as you can on a flight from New York to LA. Her name is Holly. She's achingly pretty with strawberry-blonde hair, and reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. She gives Peter her phone number on a page of The Magic Mountain, but in his room that night Peter finds the page is inexplicably, impossibly, enragingly...gone.
So begins the immensely entertaining story of Peter and his unrequited love for his best friend's girl; of Charlotte and her less-than-perfect marriage to a man in love with someone else; of Jonathan and his wicked and fateful debauchery; and of Holly, the impetus for it all. Along the way, there's the evil boss, the desirable temptress, miscommunications, misrepresentations, fiendish behavior, letters gone astray, and ultimately, an ending in which every character gets his due.
Both incisive and wonderfully funny, this is a brilliantly understated comedy of manners in which love lost is found again.
"The two young professionals of Collins's polished debut, Holly and Peter, meet on a flight bound from New York to L.A. They tacitly understand they are soul mates, and she invites him to dinner, but Peter soon discovers that he has lost the number Holly wrote on a page torn from Mann's The Magic Mountain. With Peter's financial career and New York society as a mundane backdrop, years pass and Holly ends up married to Jonathan, a successful author and womanizer — and, conveniently, Peter's best friend. Still aching for his one-time seatmate, Peter marries Charlotte, a dull Francophile, because it 'made sense.' Charlotte, of course, is also in love with someone else — a former flame, Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore. At Peter and Charlotte's wedding, Jonathan is struck by lightning, precipitating an endless series of events that changes the lives of family, friends and lovers alike — including Peter's boss and Charlotte's ex-stepmother. Former Time editor Collins, 48, writes as if fully aware that anyone who saw any one of a thousand other romantic comedies will find the plot familiar: he plays romantic comedy clichs with an expert coolness. Anyone for whom chick lit is a guilty pleasure will find the tone here multiple notches above the usual fare." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"James Collins' debut relies on a stunning number of familiar tropes....But he makes magic of it all by infusing those would-be clichés with so much old-school charm that you want to believe, and with so much patient detail that you actually can. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"Despite the contemporary setting, Collins's fiction debut has all the traits of a 19th-century romance....Jane Austen fans will feel right at home. Recommended." Library Journal
"Part fable, part farce, a preposterously plotted yet ultimately charming debut novel....If you loved The Graduate, you'll like this." Kirkus Reviews
"James Collins has written a romantic, funny and insightful page turner about love in modern times, missed opportunities and the wheel of fate (with a blow-out) that is so engaging and real, you will find it impossible to put down." Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Lucia, Lucia and Big Stone Gap
When Peter Russell finally meets the woman of his dreams, he falls as madly in love as you can on a flight from New York to LA. Her name is Holly. She's achingly pretty with strawberry-blonde hair, and reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. She gives Peter her phone number on a page of The Magic Mountain, but in his room that night Peter finds the page is inexplicably, impossibly, enragingly...gone.
Peter Russell finally meets the woman of his dreams, but in his room that night Peter discovers the paper on which she wrote her phone number is inexplicably gone. Both incisive and wonderfully funny, this is a brilliantly understated comedy of manners in which love lost is found again.
Is love at first sight possible or just an old-fashioned romantic idea? And what if, to further complicate things, you meet the love of your life and then lose her phone number? Then what if, after the impossible happens and you find her again, she's now about to marry a roguish lothario who is also your best friend? The complications don't end there for Peter Russell, the winning hero of James Collins' charming, generous, and romantic first novel. Part modern-day Jane Austen, part Tom Wolfe, Beginner's Greek is a romantic comedy of the highest order, with characters who are perfectly, charmingly real as they swerve and stumble from fairy tale to social satire and back again.
About the Author
James Collins writes for The New Yorker and has been an editor at both Time and Spy Magazine. A former Little, Brown editorial assistant, he ives in Virginia with his family.
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