Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Thoughts: Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto
published 2011
304 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.
As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.
My thoughts:

Sept: 5 - Just opened the book and read the brief prologue - I'm hooked! Hope the rest of the book is this entertaining.

Sept. 19 - The amount of time it is taking me to read this novel is in no way proportional to how much I am enjoying it - because my reading time has been nearly zero, and I am enjoying it quite a bit.  The author is divulging bits and pieces of the mystery as she tells the story in historical flashbacks - some recent history, some much longer-ago history - and I'm still quite intrigued about where we are going to end up. I was worried at first that she was going the route of Forest Gump, where the main character conveniently arrives at the scene of world-changing events just in time to participate, but she's taken a slightly different tactic, which makes the narrative more believable for me.

Really, my biggest issue is that I haven't quite fallen for Max yet, and spend a good deal of my time wondering why Shelly chooses to put up with his shenanigans - of course, my other issue is that Shelly seems to jump headfirst into things with absolutely no foresight or common sense, so that would probably explain the first issue. I'm not yet in love with the love story, which makes those portions of the novel just a little less interesting for me, but overall it's a lot of fun.

Sept. 23 - Well, that was a fun read. While I never quite on on board with the love story, I did find myself rooting for Shelley enough to hope that she finds a happy ending. I think my biggest problem with Max is that he just seems bossy - in the present day, he spends a lot of time telling Shelley what they are going to do. In the stories about his past, I can sympathize with him much more than I could in the present narrative.

I enjoyed the humor the author injected into the narrative throughout the story. Just when things seemed to be getting very serious, or hard to believe, she would give us something funny to remind her readers that she isn't taking herself completely seriously. Shelley's ability to laugh at herself and her situation was refreshing.

I don't think this will probably be in my top 10 favorites of the year, but it was definitely an entertaining story. The author left the ending rather ambiguous - possibly to allow room for a sequel? If that is in the works, I would be happy to read it. This novel jumps through time, and genres, and love stories, and it's a fun ride through it all.

Finished: 9/23/11
Source: review copy from publisher - thank you!
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexuality, language, and intense situations
My rating: 7/10


Zibilee said...

I almost bought this book the other day, but didn't know enough about it to make the purchase. It sounds like you really liked it though, and like it would be a great read. I am going to have to reconsider this one. It sounds like it's a book that shouldn't be missed. Great review!

bermudaonion said...

The book must be good if you'd be willing to read a sequel.

Michelle said...

The cover of this one was enough to pique my interest, so I'm glad that I was right in picking up a copy. Thanks for your thoughts!