Just Like Heaven Mass Market Paperback – Jul 26 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
This is the book, by a French architect based in San Francisco, that made a huge Hollywood deal, and then a seven-figure sale to Pocket Books. It's an interesting study in the difference between a movie concept and a novel. One can imagine it as an offbeat romantic comedy on the screen, with charismatic actors and some nifty special effects, but as a book it's slight and one-dimensional--and it doesn't help that Levy has no ear whatsoever for American speech patterns. The gimmick at the heart of the story is a mixture of the movie notion of "meeting cute" and the Invisible Man tradition. Arthur, a young architect in San Francisco, finds a beautiful girl hiding in the closet of an apartment he has just bought. The problem is, only he can see her; she is, in fact, a spirit emanation of Lauren, a nurse who is lying in a coma at a nearby hospital after a near-fatal accident; the apartment used to be hers. After initially rejecting her explanation, Arthur begins to fall for Lauren, and determines that he must remove her comatose body from the hospital before her grieving mother can bring herself to cut off her life support. Helped by his skeptical business partner, Arthur accomplishes this with a borrowed ambulance and Lauren's knowledge of how the hospital works. Then the "body," along with the attendant invisible Lauren, is spirited away to the Carmel hideaway Arthur has kept since his beloved mother's death from cancer. (Life with mother is rendered in a series of saccharine scenes that would embarrass a maker of life insurance commercials.) George Pilger, one of the most improbable American police inspector ever to grace the pages of a novel, gets onto Arthur's escapade and goes down to Carmel to confront him. Will Arthur be arrested? Will Lauren die? In a gentle fable like this, there can be no real surprises. What is surprising is that so slender a tale, which actually reads more like a draft of a screenplay, should have appeared as an (almost) full-length book. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
YA-First-time novelist Levy scored a bestseller with this book in his native France. It is a light, frothy tale of love conquering all, even a coma. Lauren Kline, a medical resident at San Francisco Memorial Hospital, is young, beautiful, and content with her life. Then a faulty steering mechanism in her old clunker of a car causes her to suffer head injuries in a shattering car accident. As she later explains, she could hear everything around her in the hospital recovery room, but could neither move, see, nor speak. She learns that she is languishing in a coma, having somehow survived being pronounced dead. Enter Arthur, an architect and partner in a restoration firm, who recently moved into an apartment and finds it comes equipped with an unexpected bonus-Lauren. Well, her spirit, anyway, since her body continues to reside in the very hospital in which she worked. She's not dead, so the apartment-dwelling Lauren is not actually a ghost, and she seems to have form and substance, but only Arthur can see and hear her. Readers learn that for months she has been psychically transporting her spirit all over the city until she finally comes back to her own apartment-now Arthur's. This feel-good story is an easy and engrossing read, and it should be particularly popular with teen girls.
Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
What an amateurish mess. Although the central premise could have been interesting, the book doesn't really work on any level. The writing is extremely pedestrian: the cops eat donuts, the sidekick makes wisecracks, and all the cliches appear just where you expect them. The characters don't behave like any human beings I know. There are huge, careless gaps in the plot (for example, why does Lauren's "soul" bother to hide in a bathroom closet if no one has been able to see her?) and the author doesn't even bother to get the geography of San Francisco right -- a quick look at a map would have shown that it is Post Street, not Polk Street, that runs along Union Square.
Of course, none of this really matters because the book reads like a sketchy proposal for a throw-away romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. And I have a feeling that's exactly what we're going to get. *sigh*
The fanciful, spiritual rescue plot is by far the best part of the book, and I was quite disappointed by the author's inability to explore the issues the premise (coma victim "detaches" spirit from her body) raises in more depth. The author mentioned the TV series "Bewitched" a few times - obviously an inspiration to him - but the writers of that series did a much more thorough job of exploring the options within its self-imposed magical limits. There are plot holes one can drive a truck through. For example, the coma victim/spirit and the protagonist can't seem to figure out how to communicate to others who can't see her, but the average reader will envision many ways it could be done that the characters don't think of. And the issues of coma and spirituality aren't really explored at all.
It was a quick read, with some stilted but good San Francisco imagery, and I did read it all the way through. If you're still tempted, go ahead. Just don't pay full price for it.
This book is very well-written. It reminded me of "Message in a Bottle" by Nicholas Sparks. The writing style and the story are both very similar, although "If Only It Were True" is not as tragic as "Message." It's a very quick read - just over 200 pages long. I devoured it in an evening. Even if you're not a fan of romances, you should still try this one. It's sweet and guaranteed to leave a smile on your face, but it's not so full of sap that you will feel ill afterwards. There is a very interesting sub-plot concerning Arthur's mother; I would have almost liked to read more about it, but there was just enough to explain things and not so much that it overshadowed the actual story. The only problem with the book is that the character of Lauren wasn't nearly as well-developed as the character of Arthur. This is a minor point and you don't notice it much while reading it. "If Only It Were True" is a perfect summer read, so run to your local library and find a copy!
i waited almost a year before reading this book. i shouldn't have bothered. typical sitcom tripe. a guy who's a crub moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a woman in a coma; she reveals herself to him, tells him " only you can see me " she pleads for his help, the usual calamity ensues, they fall in love,yada, yada, yada...one of the reasons i haven't watched t.v. in a year was because i wanted to read more, to strengthen my mind. i didn't expect to find books to be this dumbed down...levy proves that all you need to do to aualify as an author is to compose a complete sentence...i was not moved at all by this story...i gave up after the first third, then later sold the book. i could write a better novel and i'm a poet. maybe i should try writing a book. i couln't do any worse than he did. my second nominee for the golden shovel for the worst book i ever read...
Most recent customer reviews
Nice story with a nice ending. My international student recommended I read it as it is her favourite book. I enjoyed it and it was a light read. Read morePublished 21 months ago by CTargett
I thought it was a very cute, funny movie. I would recommend this movie to girlfriends. It's what you call a chick flick.Published on Feb. 2 2014 by Denise Vienneau
There are some books classified as chick lit that are really good reads with quite redeeming qualities - this ain't one!! Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2013 by Deborah Benoit Aspler
Lauren is in a car accident and slips into a coma at a local hospital. Arthur moves into her apartment and find her in his closet. Read morePublished on April 6 2004
Okay, so we know from other reviews that this book is on its way to Hollywood (I personally see Lauren played by Mira Sorvino and Arthur played by Michael Vartan), but read the... Read morePublished on Dec 30 2003 by Amazon Customer
I admire the author's imagination; how he turned an 'Impossible' situation into a 'Could-happen' one. There are smart jokes, and the ending is unexpected. Read morePublished on March 4 2003 by Mira
What a wonderful book. I just happened to pick it up at the sale table and have recommended to everyone. Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2003 by Cathy Westley
Paranormal love story written by first time French author, Marc Levy. Story of a young female doctor who is involved in a car accident and ends up in a coma. Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2003 by Lealing
Not quite a ghost story, not quite a romance, not quite a suspense book, but quite a story. Marc Levy spins a wonderful tale, full of imagination. Pick it up for a fun summer read.Published on Aug. 4 2002 by Thea M. Ryan