Review: Beginner's Greek

I picked this book up at the library, after someone mentioned it could be Oprah’s next pick (funny). I didn’t believe it would be her next pick but after reading a few reviews I thought I would give it a try.

About the author: I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and I wrote my first collection of poems in a small blue spiral notebook when, I think, I was seven. In school my strengths were subjects like English and History and I wrote for literary magazines and so on. In college, though, I had a difficult time in general and was able to write almost nothing. When I graduated, I hadn't established a record that would lead to a literary career (or any career), and there were practical reasons for me to try working on Wall St., so I did. I thought to myself that it would be easier to go from that to writing and that the experience would be helpful if I did ever make the change. (source: author website)

Beginner’s Greek is the story of a man searching for love. In the beginning of the book Peter makes a connection with Holly while flying from NYC to California. She gives him her number and invites him to dinner. Peter loses her phone number and they never see each other again. The story begins about ten years later when Peter is married but can’t seem to forget about Holly. As luck would it their paths will cross again.

This is not a story I would pick up on my own, I feel I need to share this since it might explain my comments. Gayle with EDIWTB reviewed it earlier this year and I remembered the title from her blog when I saw the Oprah teaser. One part of the story that didn’t make much sense to me from a plot perspective was that Peter’s best friend married to Holly, Peter’s long lost potential love interest. How is it that they didn’t meet again until now? I liked the writing style and the book was entertaining (a lot of drama to keep you engaged). I found it interesting to read guy-lit, exposing the insecurities that are written in the chic-lit genre are also there for guy-lit.

Author interview (Click here to read the complete interview):Your book is a wonderful exploration of a young man's unrequited love. Would you consider the book a member of the new genre, male lit? It’s funny, a couple of people have mentioned that they were struck by the fact that protagonist of a book like this was a man. It never occurred to me to think of that as being unusual, since it seemed to me that male heroes of love stories have always been very common. “Boy meets girl…boy loses girl…boy gets girl back” is the classic formula. So, no, I don't think of it as being part of a new genre, and, while I really like Nick Hornby, whose success started the "lad lit" trend, I actually hope my book has a bit more "lit" and a lot less "lad" than the typical one in that category.

Have you ever met someone remarkable on a plane? Something like the incident in the book actually happened to me, but I knew the other person slightly and there were no romantic consequences, so it wasn't really the same. Otherwise, I find as I get older I am less shy about talking to strangers, and while I haven’t met anyone truly remarkable, I have had some enjoyable conversations. I know much more about shark-fishing and theatrical lighting and how a Dollar Store makes money than I did before, and I have gotten a look into other people’s lives, which is endlessly fascinating, no matter who they are.

Type: Fiction, 464 pages, Trade paperback

Synopsis: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, enragingly...gone.

So begins the immensely entertaining story of Peter and his unrequited love for his best friend's girl; of Charlotte and her less-than-perfect marriage to a man in love with someone else; of Jonathan and his wicked and fateful debauchery; and of Holly, the impetus for it all. Along the way, there's the evil boss, the desirable temptress, miscommunications, misrepresentations, fiendish behavior, letters gone astray, and ultimately, an ending in which every character gets his due.Both incisive and wonderfully funny, this is a brilliantly understated comedy of manners in which love lost is found again.

Reviews:"James Collins has written a romantic, funny and insightful page turner about love in modern times, missed opportunities and the wheel of fate (with a blow-out!) that is so engaging and real, you will find it impossible to put down. Peter Russell is an everyman filled with longing, lust and good sense. I promise you will root for him as fate throws him curves aplenty on his path to true love. BEGINNER'S GREEK and Peter Russell are keepers." — Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap