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Everything Beautiful Began After

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  2,035 ratings  ·  337 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
Paperback, 402 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published July 1st 2011)
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I'd say it is the perfect novel or at least, the perfect novel for me.

Of course, I loved it–in fact, it is the best book I’ve read in 2011. Set against the spectacular backdrop of an Athens summer that changed the lives of three tortured souls forever, Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel is not your typical story of soul-searching abroad, or an entangled romantic triangle. This novel is told with Van Booy’s trademark gift to write about love, truth, beauty and compassion in a way no other
Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy is a truly stunning book. Vivid images cascade one after another but all serve to illuminate the characters and their past.

Three characters dominate the story-the classic French scenario of a woman (Rebecca) loved by two men. But in this story, all the characters are dominated by pasts filled with loss & abandonment and childhoods scarred in powerful ways.

This image is a representative example of how Van Booy uses images to bring an immediac
Very few authors are able to imbue their words with beautiful, raw honesty the way Simon Van Booy can.
This book-- these characters-- slayed me.
Made me smile, laugh and weep.
I am grieving the closing of the final page because I want to go on living with these people...
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Another staggeringly delicious read, another review where I'm fumbling for the words to express how much I loved this book.

In terms of plot, there's not much, technically: three young ex-pats meet in Athens, each hiding from a secret, hungry to loved. At the start, I was briefly apprehensive this would be just a love triangle novel, American pitted against Brit, fighting for the French girl -- but I was so desperately wrong. There's hardly a triangle, really, just three lonely people who love ea
This may well be one of the most exquisitely written books of the year. I can imagine that some may find Van Booy's style precious and maybe too elaborate, and I guess some could describe him as an acquired taste: it seems that people don't write like this anymore, today - and that, for me, is an immense quality. I miss writers who are able to create, in some ways, a language of their own, who aren't afraid to be poetic (without sounding pretentious or ridiculous), who want to enchant the reader ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Remoy Philip
There is a shift in book 2 of this novel that makes the amorous utopian blasé narrative of book 1 smartly plotted. And this is not specific to the dramatic shift, but to the shift in how the protagonist is no longer just "Henry" but suddenly compounded into a three letter direct pronoun that allows the spectator to become less the spectator and more the character involved in the spectacle that is Everything Beautiful Began After. There are many modern conventions like this throughout the book th ...more
What does one say about this beautiful book without giving away too much? That the author’s style is astounding with its elegantly simple sentences that reveal each character’s inner thoughts? (“He felt the deep bite of loneliness. He thought of the cemetery in New Hampshire, and he longed for the cold simplicity of it. Fractured sunlight through the orchard. The eternal sea beyond, churning the names of the dead.”) That the poetry of his descriptions is sublime - breathtakingly stunning? (“She ...more
Erika Robuck
The novel takes place largely in Athens, Sicily, and France, but spans many continents and time periods, and is divided into the time before and after an event. Before the event, in Athens, Greece, three people’s lives converge in unexpected ways as they are all displaced in some way from a life they should be living, where they reside under the cover of shadows from their pasts or demons from their present.

Rebecca, an artist, still feels the hollow wound of her mother’s abandonment of her and h
Everything Beautiful Began After took me by surprise. It begins with a little girl playing in the "wild end of the garden". She's thinking about how she came to be, and realizing there was life before her, she decides she again wants to hear the story about how her parents met.

I thought I had an idea of the story this book would tell, but I was taken down a completely different path.

Rebecca is a beautiful, young, former French stewardess turned aspiring artist.

George is an American, with a bit
Sasha Martinez
Oct 02, 2011 Sasha Martinez added it
Shelves: 2011
So many disappointments in me right now.

I don’t have the energy—or the patience—to rationally talk about those bedamned disappointments right now. How to say that the prose had me rolling my eyes more times than it made me breathless? How to say that I didn’t feel as though Van Booy respected his characters to give them room to grow—and not just mope for the purpose of displaying the author’s dubious skillz with the language? How to say that I am certain that a chunk of the book could have been
“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.

Paces where lonely people can live in exile of their own lives – far from anything that was ever imagined for them.”

I was going to start off by saying that I would pretty much read anything that Simon van Booy writes. And then I stopped and thought, this book is actually only the second book of his that I’ve read (the first being his collection of short stories, Love Begins in Winter – even announcing it to be one of my fav
I had never read anything by Simon Van Booy before, but it was a recommended read at my local independent bookshop, so I decided to give this book a try. I am so glad I did. Simon Van Booy writes in such a way that you have the most vivid picture in your mind of a place you've never been. He writes so beautifully and poetically, and carves out his characters perfectly. I devoured this book despite all the other reviews that said it should be savored. I couldn't savor it, I just wanted more. Midw ...more
I had a rather tepid response to his short story collection, but I'm willing to try again. The subject looks right up my alley, and reviews make the writing sound like it is as well:
I couldn't decide if I should give this book two stars or five, so I settled on four.

I was sold on it by the blurb beneath it on the shelf at my favorite bookshop, claiming that had Fitzgerald and Hemingway had a baby, it would be this book. As I love both of those authors, I had a hard time saying no. In many ways, this is entirely accurate. (Also, in the author photo at the back, Van Booy definitely looks like he really, really wishes that he was Jay Gatsby.)

Ultimately, I think I might not be
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lolly K Dandeneau
I love Simon Van Booy, there are few writers that are poetry in every sentence. I was looking forward to this novel and was not disappointed. His characters live experiences I wish I could, expect maybe their tragedies (small and big). It did not end the way I anticipated, and I loved both George and Henry as Rebecca did. Strange aside, those are my two favorite names in French.
I love that I can read his characters and feel pity for them, anger toward them and love. His characters are always raw
Beth Bonini
Usually, I write my own review of a book before I look at what other people have said about it. Two reasons for this: (1) I can be easily swayed by what other readers think, especially if they write articulately and persuasively about it; and (2) some reviews are so perfect that it seems an absolute waste of time straining myself to write my OWN small piece. With this book, I broke my own rules and thus have ended up referencing someone called Vivienne: I couldn't decide if I should give this bo ...more
Elizabeth B
I think this is a book that will divide its audience: either you will love it or you will give up after a few chapters. Having not read anything by this author previously, I was intrigued by the writing style. Most of the novel is composed of short, direct sentences that read almost like a journalistic reporting of events. No effort is made at description or character building which will bother some readers. I, however, found the style to be generally engaging and it helped pull me along through ...more
Debbie Robson
Everything Beautiful Began After is an intriguing title and the book begins with a very intriguing and beautifully written Prologue that hints at one such turning point. Van Booy is, I believe, one of the most poetic and lyrical writers today and thank God he is because it is a dying art - to take "care" of words as lovingly as Van Booy does. Take for instance these sentences:
"Athens has long been a place where lonely people go. A city doomed to forever impersonate itself, a city wrapped by crue
What begins as a simple trip to Athens turns into much more when Rebecca happens upon new friends and love. Her days were meant to be spent painting and reveling in the independence of a life separate from the one she left behind. What she finds are two men who quickly become her best friends and greatest chance at a new life if there ever was one. In the blink of an eye though the circumstances change and those who are left to pick up the pieces quickly discover exactly what is beautiful when t ...more
Hannah Courtright
I am torn as to what I should give this novel-- three or four stars? I wish there was a half button. It was beautifully written, with some quotes were brilliantly written, in a great philosophical way that makes me want to give it four stars. However good the language is, his writing techniques he implements do some harm to the novel, causing the urge to give three stars.

Divided into four books, with a prologue, that is written like an epilogue, and a correctly placed epilogue. Yet, the narrati
Judith Starkston
This book caught my attention because it is set in Athens and one of the characters is an archaeologist, topics I enjoy. Those two aspects turn out not to be overly central, but I’m glad I read it. The narrative voices and the structure of the novel are inventive and very contemporary in style. Van Booy has created a masterful piece of fiction, although it is not an easy read. I found it disorienting at times, and sometimes the masterful demanded I take notice of the author’s skill rather than l ...more
Sarah Joyce Bryant
I fell in love with Everything Beautiful Began After after having just read the Prologue and the rest of the book did not disappoint. Simon Van Booy’s beautiful poetic language is stunning and his descriptions require the reader to pause and take a deep breath to take them in. The characters are so well developed that one cannot help but love and care deeply for them. It is fascinating to watch as they argue over the existence of fate while we quietly witness fate take its toll on each of them. ...more
To say I devoured this book is an understatement – I ferociously consumed it in just over 24 hours. I was so enamored with the language, the plot, and especially the characters. Simon (yes we’re on a first name basis, we’ve actually met) has a gift with words that I haven’t encountered in quite some time. Elegant, but not overdone, his prose has a simple beauty that feels effortless. One example is the concluding sentence of a chapter, after the three main characters are caught in an exquisite m ...more
Everything Beautiful Began After tells a story about three different people and how their life changed after they met one another. At one glance of the blurb, one may dismiss it as a love story but let me tell you that there's more going on here than that.

Rebecca used to be an air stewardess before she comes to Athens to paint. When Rebecca was young, she and her sister lived with their grandfather as they were abandoned by their mother. At that time, she was also very intrigued by their grandmo
I have let this book simmer in my mind for a while after finishing, trying to find the words to write this review. Alas, I am still at a loss but must get the review written anyway. This book was written in a manor that left me with a feeling of confusion each time I put it down – I didn’t understand where anything was going in the plot or with the characters. I felt lost but could sense the drama building but never really connected with any of it. When the sense of impending doom finally came t ...more
The first time that I tried to read this book, I was completely lost and confused and that was after only eight pages! I put the book down and decided to come back to for a second try.

The second time went better; I got through the whole book. It is very true that you either loved it or hated it. I did not like it. I cannot help my feelings. For me the first half was better than the second and I would have preferred to stop there.

First, here is what I like about the book. The cover looks like a
Shauna Tyndall
First off, let me say that Van Booy certainly has a way with words. Even the most simple of sentences are beautiful. However, I felt at times that the book was almost too well worded. I'm trying to find the right way to explain myself. I'm sure Van Booy would manage excellently. You know how you sometimes you meet a person who is oh so much smarter than everyone else, someone who notices everything and sums it up in charming little comments. This book is that person. The word that would sum the ...more
lori mitchell
A beautiful story about three lost souls trying to find themselves in Athens and what happens when they all meet. This a beautiful story. Heartbreaking at times, but also full of love and life. I loved it.

Favorite quotes:

"The beauty of artifacts is in how they reassure us we're not the first to die. But those who seek only reassurance from life will never be more than tourists--seeing everything and only trying to possess what can be felt. Beauty is in the shadow of imperfection."

"Sometimes chi
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Simon Van Booy was born in London and grew up in rural Wales and Oxford. After playing football in Kentucky, he lived in Paris and Athens. In 2002 he was awarded an MFA and won the H.R. Hays Poetry Prize. His journalism has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times and the New York Post. Van Booy is the author of The Secret Lives of People in Love, now translated into sever ...more
More about Simon Van Booy...
The Illusion of Separateness The Secret Lives of People in Love Love Begins in Winter: Five Stories Why Our Decisions Don't Matter The Coming and Going of Strangers

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“You were unsure which pain is worse -- the shock of what happened or the ache for what never will.” 228 likes
“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel
like home.”
More quotes…