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Everything Beautiful Began After

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,763 ratings  ·  391 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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3.74  · 
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 ·  2,763 ratings  ·  391 reviews

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Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Everything Beautiful Began After” lured me in as soon as I began the Prologue. Simon Van Booy’s words carry you alongside the three once separate lives of Rebecca, George and Henry, and how they become intertwined by chance and love. Through their walks along the streets of Athens you come to see the city through their eyes, their vision clouded by their lives before Athens.

An enchanting first novel about life, love, fate and the stories we choose to tell or not to tell about ourselves, as wel
Three meet in Athens one summer, maybe during the 1980s or 90s, something like that. They become friends and lovers. How is this to be resolved, with three?! Rebecca is French, a young and beautiful red-haired Air France flight attendant, flaky, and an artist too,with dreams of one day attaining fame at her own Parisian art show. George is from Kentucky, an Ivy League student of ancient languages. He is addicted to drink. Henry is an aspiring archaeologist from Cambridge, England. All three are ...more
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sasha Martinez
Sep 25, 2011 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
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, audio
You are listening to a book. You think it's pretty good - it's taking itself way too seriously but it's still enjoyable. You hear the narrator say Part Two and then suddenly the point of view shifts to second person. You hear every sentence beginning with "you". You think it's going to be ok because you loved another book in second person. You keep listening. You start to get irritated. You don't hear a narrative, you hear a list of sentences starting with You. You already think the protagonist ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erika Robuck
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Remoy Philip
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, 2011
“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
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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:
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, 2011
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
May 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Lolly K Dandeneau
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Diane S ☔
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 I have had a hard time classifying this novel, the prose and his words are beautiful and vivid. But I didn't care very much for the story itself. I felt somewhat of a remove from the characters, and some awful thing happen in this novel the belies the beauty of the prose. Maybe that is the point though.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful prose and finally, a not super depressing book for my 2018 year in reading. I mean, still really sad. But not depressing.
Judith Starkston
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jul 02, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to ayrdaomei by: Library Staff
Shelves: finished
My initial instinct was to give this book 4 stars, but when you really get down to it, I was kinda meh on the first part, and slightly more into the third part, and only really loved the second part. I think that works out to 3 stars.

I read this book because it was on the Staff Recommendations shelf at my local library and I vaguely recalled reading a glowing review of it in some women's magazine my mom brought home from work. I knew nothing of the story going in.

The story is separated into sub-
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Beth Bonini
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jess Bennett
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Do you ever need to take a break after you finish a book because you know that whatever you read next can't even begin to compare with what you just put down? Me too.
Larry H
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I fell in love with Simon Van Booy's mesmerizing short story collection, Love Begins in Winter, when I read it in 2009, and it was among my favorite books of that year. His first novel, Everything Beautiful Began After, approaches love and relationships in a wholly different way, and although it didn't resonate with me as much as his short story collection, Van Booy's writing continues to transfix me.

Rebecca is a former flight attendant and an aspiring artist on the run from life. George is a l
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World Literature ...: * Everything Beautiful Began After - Mar 2012 8 37 Oct 25, 2012 08:09AM  

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Simon Van Booy is the award-winning and best-selling author of 10 books of fiction, and three anthologies of philosophy. He has written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, NPR, and the BBC. His books have been translated into many languages. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. In 2013, he founded Writers for Children, a project which helps young people build confidence in the ...more
“You were unsure which pain is worse -- the shock of what happened or the ache for what never will.” 275 likes
“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel
like home.”
More quotes…