Book Review: Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

8 Jan

Genre: Literary fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper Perennial)

Pub date: 7 Jan 2011

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

(This is a short review of a book I read a while ago and made notes on. I don’t have this book with me now, so you’ll notice the review is a little thin on the details.)

Synopsis (From GoodReads)

Rebecca has come to Athens to paint. Born and raised in the south of France, Rebecca’s mother abandoned her and her sister when they were very young, left to be raised by her loving yet distant grandfather. Young and lost, she seeks solace in the heat of Athens. George has come to Athens to translate language. Dropped off at a New England boarding school when he was a child, he has close to no relationships with anyone, except the study of ancient language and alcohol. Henry has come to Athens to dig. An archaeologist, Henry is on-site at Athens during the day, and roams the Agora on the weekend. Three lost and lonely souls whose worlds become inexorable enmeshed with consequences that ripple far among the ruins of ancient Athens


This book was one among the favorites of book bloggers last year. And I when I read the book I completely understood why. Everything Beautiful Began After is a story of despair, loneliness and finding hope in unlikely places. Rebecca, George and Henry are all in Athens searching for something and dealing with their own darkness, despair and regrets. Something in each of their childhoods has affected the way they deal with life.

The story unfolds slowly, going back and forth and we get to know the characters more by the things they do rather than the things they say. The writing gives Athens a magical glow – a place where possibilities are endless if only the people knew how to use them.

A part of the story is told in the form of letters, telegrams and photographs. This not only gives the reader s personal glimpse into the very minds of the characters, but these devices on the page make for interesting design choices.

The story is beautifully written, and is complex and layered. It is a story of coming of age, growing up, seeing  and accepting things as adults. It’s also about falling in love madly and giddily – with a person, a place… And the things that you learn from them.


Highly recommended for fans of literary fiction. It’s a touching hopeful story set in magical places.

Rating: 5*

*See my Rating policy

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4 Responses to “Book Review: Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy”

  1. Jennifer, bookspersonally January 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    lovely review, sounds like a gorgeous novel. have been meaning to get to it!

    • stargazerpuj January 14, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      You should. It’s rather a dreamy story.

  2. Shivanee @ Novel Niche January 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I’ve heard the name of this one bouncing around the walls of the book review blogosphere, but didn’t investigate it until now. I am a huge fan of books told partially or completely in non-traditional formatting, and the inclusion of letters, telegrams and photographs seems like it would add to that dynamic nicely. This sounds like it would make a lush and vivid screen adaptation! Great, concise review, Pujitha. 🙂

    • stargazerpuj January 14, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      I’ve had to go concise since I read all these books months ago. But it is a great read. Try and get your hands on it.

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