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Almost Paradise

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,011 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Fate can be benevolent.
Or incredibly cruel.
That's what Nick and Jane will learn...

Just take their relationship. Nick is stunningly handsome, the blue-eyed scion of a blue-blood New York family. Rich, talented, confident, he will become the world's most famous movie star. Jane is delightfully funny, a dark-skinned, dark-haired, half-Jewish, half-German daughter of the Mid
Paperback, 688 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by HarperTorch (first published 1984)
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I learned that you can't hit one out of the park every time.

For all the detail, and the back story, and the excruciating detail, the ending sucked.

I think I was so mad at the end of this book that I threw it away. I couldn't believe I had read thru what amounted to 500 years of personal stories and trials and tribulations, and that was the ending I got.

Read Shining Through instead. Shoot, I was so mad at this one, I'd say if you're tempted to read it, just go do some volunteer work instead.

I don't know what to think exactly. I hated the ending...HATED it...even though I'm usually okay with "realistic" or unhappily ever after endings, this one sucked. All the biographical detail through multiple generations of both main characters...why? It read like it was non-fiction about real people, but I didn't see how it helped the story. The writing was good, the characters well-developed, and most of the storyline was interesting. BUT...the ending sucked. I wanted to throw the book away an ...more
I first read this book in high school, and I loved the heartbreaking story. I always remembered this book in the back of my head ("...there was an actor, with a wife, and they separate...") but couldn't remember the name of the book until a few years ago when it suddenly came to me. Not the best book ever written by any means, but I loved the characters.
Gee, 673 pages dedicated to generations and generations of bad marriages. Most of which would not have been bad if the freakin' participants actually communicated with each other. By the end, I was rooting for all the characters TO DIE. It was that bad.
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Robin Brandt
I did NOT like this book. I have enjoyed Susan Isaacs in the past but none of her usual humor comes through here, except the occasional sharp observation. The majority of the characters are unpleasant, and I found there to be a lot of casual cruelty that finally was almost disturbing. As others have noted, a lot of pages are spent on the pre-history: parents, grandparents, early life. But way too many of these folks are overly flawed. Yeah, yeah, their flaws are part of the characters of their p ...more
Susan Isaacs is a rich storyteller who creates characters that come right off the page! Nicholas and Jane - he an old-money aristocrat, she a spunky and charming actress - meet and fall in love as college students. When he hits it big as a famous Hollywood actor, their marriage and their lives become much more complicated than they'd planned. Part family saga, part romance, this book will draw you in and you'll be sad to leave all of the characters behind when you're done. Great for any fans of ...more
J&B Reviews
What a disappointment!!

What a disappointment!!

This book had me right from the start. The story was interesting and I really enjoyed the whole family saga. Of course Jane and Nick were made for each other. Of course Jane and Nick were meant to be.

And then boom the ending knocked me right off my seat and not in a good way. That's all I'm going to say. It's up to you if you want to put yourself through the wringer this book turned out to be.
The ending had me bawling my eyes out and screaming "WTF" in my head for about a couple of minutes before I let it all sink in. This book proves to show that Susan Isaacs could let her characters charm you, peel off all your layers and hook your heart. And when she has it, you have to ready your tear ducts because ,one way or the other, it's gonna be a whip-splash drama. I'm typing this raw. Fresh off from this book so excuse me for being overly attached and dramatic. Despite that and the allite ...more
One of my all time favorite books. A wonderful love story and 'understanding why we are as we are' books. Funny too.
Ada Iaboni
A very long story. I liked it a lot, but it did not need to go back 200 years to tell us who the characters were. Too many years and too many details of the blood line of each side of the main characters. Once it got to their story, it was much more interesting. It move pretty quick, even going back that far, it was really good for the current line. I was not thrilled with the ending, which to me was ambiguous, but one thinks one knows how it will go. From the start to the end, it is very high i ...more
I don't remember how this book got on my radar but I had to wait almost 2 months for it due to all the holds at the library. So I was really surprised when I got it and realized it had been published in 1984.

I loved it. Just loved it. It's A Love Story meets The Notebook meets an unauthorized biography of a dude that isn't actually Paul Newman or Robert Redford but might as well be.

It's so very detailed about the couple's back story. Both of their stories start with their grandparents. Yet it a
L. Heller
Susan Isaacs is one of my all-time favorite authors. The Isaacs givens: snapping hilarious dialogue, spot-on descriptions, the x-factor that makes reading her stories as absorbing as being under hypnosis are all there.

I re-read Almost Paradise recently and was struck by how creative Isaac's structure is. She spends time setting up the background of the two main characters by focusing on generations prior and only then focuses on the two mains, giving each equal time. By the time we get to Nick
Jen Kehl
I tried, I tried so hard to like this book. The potential was there - if you were looking for an epic novel and not a vacation read.

The intertwined lives of two star-crossed lovers, now middle-aged on the edge of divorce.

Tragedy strikes within the first few pages and we are sent back in time to see how the destiny of the two main characters brought them to this point.

It was really fascinating, but after 100 pages I just wanted to know how it ended. I would have flipped through to the last pages
Becky Schulman
This story drug on forever. I'm not sure that all of the previous generations of the two main characters needed to have their life stories included. I probably would have enjoyed this more of most of that had been left out. Yes, it provided insight into the characters, Jane and Nicholas, but it bogged down and I found myself skimming over large sections of the story.
Liz Winters
I've read this book more than once, but it's been a while since the last time so I won't write a detailed review. Suffice it to say that I thought it was heartbreaking and filled with great characters, and the first book that taught me that it's okay to write a realistic story without a happy ending because those stories can make the biggest impact.
I didn't like this book. I didn't like the verbose narrative that plodded out a miserable history for two human beings. I didn't like the decisions that were made. There was only one character that I enjoyed and she was a whore and her replacement was even worse. It's a very long, sad, novel.

It is about Jane and her husband whose name escapes me right this minute and their life and love. It also feels the need to tell you their entire histories up to and including past generations. Jane is a po
Even as a teenager, I could not believe this book ended the way it does. The author had 500+ pages to set us up, and I'm sure she wanted to strike a heart-rending, melodramatic chord, but all she succeeds in making us do is blink, shake our heads, and turn back through several chapters to see if we'd missed something. It's not likely that she wanted to overwhelm us with the uncertainty of real life...her characters and most of the things that happen to them are anything except realistic. When Is ...more
Gianna Day
I kind of fell in love with this book. I'd read it years ago and wasn't sure I'd like it as much the second time around. Of course, the surprise of my first read was gone (I remember being shocked - won't say anything to give anything away). But the characters and story drew my in just as much this time as the first time around. Highly recommend.
The first 4/5ths of this novel are great - Susan Isaacs at her best with richly drawn (funny) characters and sharp observations on life. The relationship between the narrator and her husband as they go through a separation in their marriage is filled with back-story and drew me in. Then the big problem: the ending. Absolutely a let-down. About as unsatisfying as possible. It almost makes the book not worth recommending at all but most of it is terrific. If you can enjoy the ride and not be disap ...more
I just LOVED this book. I enjoy Susan Isaacs' writing so much and have for years. Following Nicholas and Jane through their lives was a journey and to me perfectly reflected how people grow and change in the course of their relationship. I sure wish she would write more!! Pleaseeeeeeeeeee Susan!
So much weaving of the generations before and eventually such a's like we were rushed headlong into this overly dramatic ending that had me sobbing. Another favorite author had recommended this book as an unbelievably good book and I'm SO disappointed. Getting rid of everything by this author in my bookcase so I don't get duped again.
I prefer the Isaacs of Compromising Positions, something a little snarkier.
Leslie Kempler
One of my favorite books, ever! I have read it 4-5 times. It is long (and has a horrible title) but it always makes me happy
loved the love story
Melanie Voelker
Good writing, terrible plot.
Susan Isaacs was an author I had tagged to read based on an article about great woman authors. This was NOT great writing, too melodramatic and I found it boring to try to get through. Oh, a shocking ending, I guess that is supposed to liven things up! At that point, I didn't care what happened to any of the characters. I had 3 of her books on my list to try, but quickly realized this is not my kind of story, and deleted the other two. I guess if you like Lifetime movies, you might like this.
Long book with 250 or so pages of lead up until the "real" story starts. But a very fun read!
Jul 25, 2014 Susan added it
Really liked this book. Classic 80 epic with lots of characters and sex. Great character development. Each character was real and believable. Long book that reads very fast
Ann Miller
Almost Paradise was too much--too much backstory, too many generations depicted, too many forays into subplots and secondary characters I didn't give a flip about. The sex was too graphic, the morality too sketchy, and the ending too sad. I'm not saying Isaacs failed to employ her considerable story-shaping skills, but this saga was not for me. I'm giving it 3 stars because I finished it, but it wasn't a happy read from any angle.
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Susan Isaacs is a recipient of the Writers for Writers Award and the John Steinbeck Award. She serves as chairman of the board of Poets & Writers and is a past president of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The Creative Coalition, PEN, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Ada ...more
More about Susan Isaacs...
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