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Everything Beautiful Began Afterby Simon Van Booy
Synopses & Reviews
Rebecca is young, lost, and beautiful. A gifted artist, she seeks solace and inspiration in the Mediterranean heat of Athens — trying to understand who she is and how she can love without fear.
George has come to Athens to learn ancient languages after growing up in New England boarding schools and Ivy League colleges. He has no close relationships with anyone and spends his days hunched over books or wandering the city in a drunken stupor.
Henry is in Athens to dig. An accomplished young archaeologist, he devotedly uncovers the city's past as a way to escape his own, which holds a secret that not even his doting parents can talk about.
...And then, with a series of chance meetings, Rebecca, George, and Henry are suddenly in flight, their lives brighter and clearer than ever, as they fall headlong into a summer that will forever define them in the decades to come.
"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A powerful meditation on the undying nature of love and the often cruel beauty of one's own fate. This is a novel you simply must read!" Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of Townie
"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
"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
"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
"[T]he exquisite prose and heartbreaking (but never hopeless) emotional honesty make it a worthy read." Daily Candy
"Beautifully written, touchingly told, Van Booy radiates pain, fears, love and freedom on every page of this book." Passport
"Vivid and meticulous...the floweriness of his prose is skillfully balanced by his short, precise sentences. Intriguing." Metro(London)
"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
"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
"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
"There is...an integrity to [Van Booy's] vision and a haunting element in his portrait of friendship and, ultimately, resolution." Daily Mail (London)
From Simon Van Booy, the award-winning author of Love Begins in Winter, and The Secret Lives of People in Love, comes a debut novel of longing and discovery amidst the ruins of Athens. With echoes of Nicole Krauss's The History of Love and Charles Baxter's The Feast of Love, Van Booy's resonant tale of three isolated, disaffected adults discovering one another in Greece is the compelling product of an inquisitive, visionary talent. In the words of Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, "Simon Van Booy knows a great deal about the complex longings of the human heart."
About the Author
Simon Van Booy was born in London and grew up in rural Wales. He is the author of Love Begins in Winter — which won the International Frank O'Connor Prize. His non-fiction has appeared in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the New York Post. He lives in New York City, where he lectures at the School of Visual Arts and is involved in the Rutgers Early College Humanities Program (REaCH) for young adults living in underserved communities. His work has been translated into nine different languages.
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