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Beginner's Greek

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  2,370 ratings  ·  602 reviews
When Peter Russell finally meets the woman of his dreams he falls as madly in love as you can on a flight from New York to LA. Her name is Holly. She's achingly pretty with strawberry-blonde hair, and reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. She gives Peter her phone number on a page of The Magic Mountain, but in his room that night Peter finds the page is inexplicably, impossibly, ...more
Hardcover, 441 pages
Published February 4th 2008 by Fourth Estate (first published 2008)
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Am I the only one who did not like this book? Or am I so black of heart that I could not bear the treacle? Perhaps I can suspend my disbelief for wizards and evil giraffes but not for open-hearted New Yorkers. Whatever the case - I waited so long to finally get a hold of this book only to find it wanting, hence the disappointment. And all the press was so good about it too.
Be warned - I have found the secular world's answer to BD Dayehu - James Collins. Midway - no, actually, a few pages in - I thought, is this his first novel? Yep. Which would stand as good argument against the 'most authors best books are their first.' Not so much with Jimmy here.
So I was excited for this one because it sounded cute - like the movie Serendipity which I totally enjoyed - guy meets girl on an airplane, a life long fantasy of finding true love in a random twist of fate and alas, he
I officially decided to give up on this book. I rarely abandon a book, but I could tell after reading first few chapters (and then skipping ahead to the middle of the book) that it simply isn't worth my time to wade through the author's self-indulgent ramblings that are intended to be character development (of characters who, as far as I could tell, were not particularly important to the story).

Far too much time is spent drifting through various characters' thoughts, flitting from the past to th
It wasn't that I didn't like this book....its just that it wasn't what I was expecting. This book has been getting a TON of press. It is the author's debut novel and is being touted as "romantic." One person on the back cover compared him to Jane Austen. I can do "romantic." But I can't do cheese. This book bordered on cheese. It was just too neat and tidy. Perhaps life really is like this book--people pursuing the correct paths at every turn. Maybe I'm just too cynical. Regardless, it made me f ...more
This book came highly recommended from a 20 something Books, Inc. employee who saw me picking up book after book before finally deciding on a few good books for my vaca. This book was not in my stack - nowhere near my stack. Her bright eyed enthusiasm when she talked about this book was somewhat endearing. Her favorite book of 2009 - she recommends it to everyone. I have a new rule. 20 somethings are not allowed to recommend bullshit chick lit to 30 somethings. ever. This book is dreadful and ho ...more
Before I say anything else, I have to say that I love this novel. I love the plot, I love the characters, I love the pace, and I love the ending.

Now, here’s the story (briefly): Peter meets Holly on a flight from New York to LA. They talk, they bond, and by the time the plane has landed, Peter is sure that he is in love. Holly gives him her phone number, but by the time he gets to the hotel, he realizes that he has lost it. He has lost the most important number in his life. And he doesn’t know H
May 02, 2008 Stephanie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie by: New York Times Book Review
Shelves: fiction
Beginner’s Greek is a modern urban fairytale with fable-like archetypes and improbable twists of fate. It is unabashedly and quite unsubtly about love with the Austenesque quandries of true love vs. our society’s practicality.

The story centers on Peter Russell a young Wall Street financial guy who is wildly and somewhat unbelievably romantic. He believes that fate will one day sit him next to the woman of his dreams – his soul mate – on an airplane flight. This indeed comes true when Holly comes
First let me share Mr.Collins' answer to the question: What are you working on now? His answer ends with:"... I am working on something very different from _Beginner's Greek_ and am hoping that I won't dissapoint my millions of fans in this country and around the globe." _Beginner's Greek_ is so often compared to Austen, I fear Mr. Collins has assumed the character of Austen's Mr. Collins in P&P. Millions, indeed. Around the globe, indeed.

_Beginner's Greek_ needed some serious editing. A la
switterbug (Betsey)
This spirited novel gets off to a questionable start. I believe it is intended that way, until you fall into its rhythm. At about page 60 I was hooked. By that time, I really grokked the narrator's flow and the prose became so natural that it was like I was living the story. The low-star reviewers did not get it. This was not "zany" or "40's style" or vacuous. The narration is intentionally tongue-in-cheek and subversive. And yet...and yet. The Woody Allen movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, had a ...more
I'm having trouble articulating what I liked so much about this book. It was a charming story well-written. And I think that may really be the whole reason. It's definitely one I'll recommend to my friends. Living with these characters was a whole lot of fun, and the writing was a pleasure to read. Take, for instance, this excerpt which made me laugh out loud:

"Well, then," said Peter, "I guess we'll just have to find a cab."
Peter said this in the manner of a cowboy telling the womenfolk that, b
Cliched, poorly written, predictable. (Case in point: no book should EVER use the phrase, "He thought back to that fateful night three years ago...".) I curse myself for being unable to put down an unfinished novel; I'm never gonna get these three hours of my life back.
I think I might've actually hated this book. I can't really be sure because I was so incredibly bored through the whole thing. I kept thinking that maybe I was missing out on the joke or just not getting it. Maybe I did, I don't know. Shallow and pretentious.
Jason McKinney
Jul 09, 2008 Jason McKinney rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: Entertainment Weekly
I made it over 1/3 of the way through this and just couldn't finish it. It wasn't a terrible slog or anything; it just wasn't nearly as entertaining as I had heard when it comes to reviews.
This was HIGHLY disappointing. The review on the back compares it to Austen...NOT OKAY TO DO THAT! It's clearly written by a man who doesn't understand women. Oy!
Interesting premise but there was a lot of boring filler. It should have been half as long, or less. Generally a waste of time.
Liz S.
Tedious and not half as clever or arch as it wants to be.
Bonnie Brody
This is a novel that is much more complex than it appears to be on the surface. On the surface, it is a comedy of errors, a love story gone wrong. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, events intervene preventing their relationship from becoming requited. Yet the Fates intercede and somehow, as in a Greek play, we listen to the Muses from the sidelines as they let the reader know all of the great things and minutiae that occur every step of the way in this couple's journey back and forth and sideways ...more
I don't know why I bother reading other reviews after I have read a book, especially when I know the book was pure fluff. They make me think, 'well, gosh what kind of person am I that I really liked this?' That said, I really couldn't put this down. The twists and turns were fun, and even though the whole premise was unlikely, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and I could see this coming together.
I wish that the author had more respect for marriage and women; that the conclusion happened
Years ago, Peter and Holly met on a plane. They both thought it was love at first sight, but Peter lost Holly's number. Years later, they turn up in each other's lives when Holly starts dating (and later marries) Peter's best friend. How will the lovebirds come together? That's the rest of the book.

I wanted to like this book more than I did like it. It's certainly charming, and it's got lovely tangled threads of human relationships. But all the characters were just a little too good, and they we
I am not far into this, but am loving it already. I keep seeing it as a rom-com with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, and maybe Caroline Dhavernas in the four lead roles.

I've finished this, and it did not disappoint. It proved to be somewhat predictable, but the characters were so likeable and the scenario so intriguing that I couldn't put it down for long. I just had to know how it turned out. I kept seeing it as a movie, as it had all the elements for a blockbuster romantic comedy
This book is one giant cliche. I'm not above a sweet story, I love a good rom com, but this isn't one. I can't for the life of me figure out why this got any sort of literary praise. The main character, Peter, is complete milquetoast, and the object of his affection, Holly, isn't given any descriptive qualities beyond being tall, thin, and blonde, and a very nice person. Neither seems to have any discernible personality at all, and yet we're supposed to root for them. When the book began I thoug ...more
Ruby Bibi
The story line of boy meets girl, boy loses girl and then boy gets girl has been done over and over, but this was done extremely well.
Peter Russel is a bit of a romantic. While on a plane going cross country from New York to LA, he sees that there's an empty seat beside him. He imagines that fate would bring him a woman whom he would instantly fall in love with and vice versa. As the plane fills and different people appear to be coming to occupy that seat, he loses hope that his fantasy would co
Jan 09, 2010 CLM rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to CLM by: RJ
Shelves: fiction, ny, united-states
Fairy tale or satire? It was hard to tell in this comedy of manners set primarily in New York City but after resisting this book for several years due to people telling me how charming it was, I have to admit I enjoyed everything about it, beginning with the first sentence:

When Peter Russell boarded an airplane, he always wondered whether he would sit next to a beautiful young woman during the flight, and, if so, whether he and she would fall in love.
this was a good story--full of twists and turns, but i have to admit that, having not read this type of popular novel in a long time, i was a little shocked by all of the promiscuity in the book. i guess i'm a little out of touch with the way people are living their marriages today...or at least in books! however, this was definitely a page-turner and it was fun to have a book i "couldn't put down".
Don't waste your time unless you like exhaustive descriptions of setting, clothing, etc. Entire chapters are devoted to describing the entire of life of a secondary character just to explain his or her motivation for doing one thing that affects the plot.

The author does achieve an appealing tone of a British comedy of manners but the plot is just dull and the characters are too.
Stephanie G.
I wouldn't be so hard on this book, except that it got rave reviews and didn't deserve them. It's fluff. A silly, self-consciously-written soap opera of a book. The author was formerly an editor at Time. I'd hate to think that accounts for the rave reviews. Or maybe I'm missing something. If you loved it, tell me why.
This book started off great, but lost speed for me. I skimmed most of it, mainly to see what happened. Okay, but too many great books out there to spend too much time with this one!

The best part, after the first chapter, was the protagonist's dreadful boss. Worth reading those bits.
I want it to work out for the characters but I feel like I'm wasting my time with this book. I finished by skiming the end of the book. Endearing main characters but implausible circumstances and convulted story line. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for this type of book.
I picked up the book because the beginning is similar to "Serendipity," a movie I like. But I think this book is probably more realistic than Serendipity. Peter finally finds the "love at first sight, girl of his dreams." Oddly enough, Holly feels the same way as Peter. Jonathan the conniving best friend keeps them apart by lying to both of them and then marrying Holly. Peter marries,, and on the day of his wedding, Jonathan is struck by lightning and dies (after sleeping with Peter's step-mothe ...more
Could I have a cup of coffee please, as this was sooooooo sweet this probably wasn't aimed at me be I'd thought I'd give it a go and Meh this book is the kind of book you know the ending before you even start reading.

Romantic Fiction isn't me.
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Why did Julia name her baby Peter?? 2 8 Nov 22, 2013 09:38PM  
Jonathan's greek 3 48 Jan 05, 2009 12:21AM  
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James has been living and writing in Greece since 2002. He lives with his partner on the small island of Symi where they have a photographic shop and art gallery.

Since moving to Greece, James has concentrated solely on writing words rather than music, though he does still improvise on the keyboard. He first started writing stories as early on as he can remember, and has been trying to get it
More about James Collins...
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“When two people are in love, they are parrallel lines. That intersect. Together but seperate. Infinity.” 31 likes
“One of the odd things about living in an apartment was that you could walk out of someone's life but still have to wait for the elevator. (p.220)” 7 likes
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