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Almost Paradise

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3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  1,262 Ratings  ·  113 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
...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by HarperTorch (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Robin
Oct 03, 2008 Robin rated it did not like it
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.

Tha
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Jennifer
May 06, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Again, I've read it all, but this book had one of the most relatable narrators I can remember. Jewish, smart and ambitious, unhappy family, big, big love...and a happy ending that unravels, and has to be won all over again. A great big happy feast of a book that I put into as many peoples' hands as I can.
Keri
Jun 21, 2012 Keri rated it it was ok
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
Beth
Mar 02, 2007 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, fiction
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.
Karen
Jan 17, 2010 Karen rated it did not like it
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.
Sheri Hursh
Sep 21, 2015 Sheri Hursh rated it it was amazing
I first read this book nearly 30 years ago...probably late 1985 or early 1986. The reason I remember that so clearly is I was expecting our first son...and fell in love with the name of the lead male character so we ended up naming our son Nicholas. At that time I was a young, busy working mom of 2 and military wife so the fact I even managed to find the time to read was unusual. But this book resonated with me so much that even though I couldn't necessarily remember all of the details (eventual ...more
Fkellysun
Apr 29, 2010 Fkellysun rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robin Brandt
Sep 10, 2013 Robin Brandt rated it did not like it
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
Tierney
Sep 20, 2010 Tierney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chick-lit
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.
Lisa
Apr 17, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books. A wonderful love story and 'understanding why we are as we are' books. Funny too.
Barb
May 29, 2017 Barb rated it liked it
This is the story of Nicholas and Jane Cobleigh. Nicholas is an amazingly handsome and wealthy actor. Women are always throwing themselves at him. Jane is an intelligent, funny woman who develops a phobia that keeps her in her home for six years.
The story begins with Jane flying to London to try to reconcile with Nick. She is involved in a horrible car accident. The book then flashes back to the generations of Nick and Jane's ancestors. This part of the book was tedious and went on for a long ti
...more
Dianne
May 15, 2017 Dianne rated it really liked it
Didn't like the ending - didn't see it coming and it seemed unnecessary. It was kind of interesting to read a book that was actually written in 1984 rather than one in which the author writes currently as if it was 1984. Also, after reading too many shorter novels with not as much character development it was good to read a more complete-feeling book.
Anita
Oct 24, 2016 Anita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best by the queen of 1980's chick lit

I read this years ago and just re-read it. As always great character development as two people in a great love match grapple with family dynamics, rags-to-riches and stardom.
Tragedy, mental illness, alcoholism, marital infidelity all come into play.
Great light read!
Laurie
Mar 08, 2017 Laurie rated it really liked it
So bad but so good.
23skadoo40
Oct 13, 2015 23skadoo40 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol Waters
Oct 12, 2015 Carol Waters rated it did not like it
This was painfully bad. First, the independent strong woman gave up her job, her identity and her freedom to support her narcissistic husband in his career path. She didn't even volunteer. And no bad cook reads a French cookbook and becomes a gourmet chef. You have the taste or you don't. And she went her entire life getting bad sex with men who met their own needs. One didn't know what she was missing and the other made intimacy a mechanical event. Creepy. The author did seem to enjoy writing a ...more
Caroline G'wattage
Oct 17, 2015 Caroline G'wattage rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books

What a wonderful entertaining read.
My first read, from Susan Isaacs, and it's not going to be my last.

I found this book in a box, in front of a house that were moving out, the box was full of many books from the 80s, a brilliant collection, can't wait to read them all.

Almost Paradise was a page turner, a long read, but too interesting to care.

Nicholas and Jane were two characters that were easy to fall in love with. A beautiful love story of two different people from two different backgrounds, b
...more
L. Heller
Mar 04, 2013 L. Heller rated it really liked it
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
...more
Slickery
Jun 05, 2014 Slickery rated it really liked it
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
...more
Elle
Jul 11, 2010 Elle rated it did not like it
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
...more
Robin
Mar 04, 2010 Robin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jen Kehl
Jun 08, 2014 Jen Kehl rated it it was ok
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
...more
Wen
Dec 29, 2014 Wen rated it it was amazing
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
Virginia Markhart
Mar 22, 2016 Virginia Markhart rated it it was ok
"Almost Paradise" was almost great. What would have made it great would be about 200 fewer pages. At 500 pages long, it was just too much. I don't think that the main storyline would have been compromised by leaving all 3/4 of the background information going all the way back to each set of great grandparents. It was just overkill. I liked both of the main characters. It was very believable and interesting. The ending was abrupt, not what I expected. I really enjoyed the teaser at the beginning ...more
Noreen
Jan 06, 2014 Noreen rated it really liked it
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
Tricia
Jun 10, 2014 Tricia rated it really liked it
Books this long often get boring and drawn out...I never felt that way while reading this! The story wove together two families, and all their drama through many decades, and it kept my attention the whole time. It was like a well-written, multi-generational, juicy, reality show, like "Keeping Up With The Kardashians", but not annoying. ;) The only thing that disappointed me was the ending, which I found a bit too abrupt and slightly unsatisfying. Overall a fun read, and Isaacs gets an A+ for cr ...more
Ada Iaboni
Mar 11, 2015 Ada Iaboni rated it really liked it
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
Ann Miller
Jul 02, 2013 Ann Miller rated it liked it
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.
Laurie
Aug 08, 2014 Laurie rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
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.
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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
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