Reviewed by Nina Longfield
In the sultry summer landscape of Athens, Greece, three disassociated individuals discover one another and his- or herself. In his book, Everything Beautiful Began After, Simon Van Booy has created a microcosm of circumstances that brings these three separate people together in an exploration of interactions. Rebecca is an artist seeking inspiration in the hazy Athens’ cityscape. Henry has come to Greece to dig for ancient artifacts all in an attempt to understand or elude his own past. And George is a lost individual adrift in the overcrowded city. Everything Beautiful Began After is a story about the power of connections and the devastation of loss.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of Everything Beautiful Began After. I found that the pages seemed to turn themselves. Each chapter completed left me wanting to read one more. As the characters become more intertwined, their pasts are slowly revealed providing each with a depth of connection that none had ever felt before. Theirs is a connection based on similar losses, loneliness, dreams and yearning. The second half of the novel takes a devastating turn forcing each character into new directions.
Van Booy’s writing is fluid and excellent. The pace of the story is somewhat hindered in the second and third parts of the four part novel by the second person narration; this change in narration seems to pull the reader a step back from the immediacy felt in the first and fourth sections of the novel. Despite the change in narration, the story flows evenly throughout leaving one to question whether our lives are controlled by fate or choice.
Van Booy has created an evocative story, imbued with passion and the intrigues of life. Everything Beautiful Began After is a book for any season; perfect for a sunny summer beach or a chilly winter’s day before the fire.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
The review copy of this book was provided free of any obligation by Harper Perennial. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.