- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (Jan. 9 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316021555
- ISBN-13: 978-0316021555
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,443,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Beginner's Greek: A Novel Hardcover – Jan 9 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The two young professionals of Collins's polished debut, Holly and Peter, meet on a flight bound from New York to L.A. They tacitly understand they are soul mates, and she invites him to dinner, but Peter soon discovers that he has lost the number Holly wrote on a page torn from Mann's The Magic Mountain. With Peter's financial career and New York society as a mundane backdrop, years pass and Holly ends up married to Jonathan, a successful author and womanizer—and, conveniently, Peter's best friend. Still aching for his one-time seatmate, Peter marries Charlotte, a dull Francophile, because it made sense. Charlotte, of course, is also in love with someone else—a former flame, Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore. At Peter and Charlotte's wedding, Jonathan is struck by lightning, precipitating an endless series of events that changes the lives of family, friends and lovers alike—including Peter's boss and Charlotte's ex-stepmother. Former Time editor Collins, 48, writes as if fully aware that anyone who saw any one of a thousand other romantic comedies will find the plot familiar: he plays romantic comedy clichés with an expert coolness. Anyone for whom chick lit is a guilty pleasure will find the tone here multiple notches above the usual fare. (Jan.)
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"Pure Pleasure Plus Wit: The arch and romantic read of any season, James Collins' Beginner's Greek makes you half-believe in miracles. With his triteness detector in high gear and his sights trained on social hypocrisy, Collins spins a chance encounter on an airplane (shy guy meets his dream girl) into a perfectly calibrated comedy of missed opportunities and muddled loves." (O Magazine)
"Despite the contemporary setting, Collins's fiction debut has all the traits of a 19th-century romance-an omniscient and sometimes playful narrator, elegant prose that meanders through the lush terrain of disparate lives, an occasionally arch but always dulcet tone, frequent flashbacks, characters whose minds are plumbed (the females are especially well sounded), sophisticated dialog, and a much-delayed but delightful resolution. Jane Austen fans will feel right at home." (starred review) (Library Journal (starred review) 2007-01-00)
"Beginner's Greek is full of humor and a rare, perceptive sweetness. Jim Collins is a skeptic, a realist, and a fervent romantic all in one." (Cathleen Schine, author of She is Me and The New Yorkers)
"In Beginners Greek, James Collins achieves a tone - a farcical fatalism, poised, astringent, generous - that I thought until now was the exclusive property of the finest British comic novelists. How wrong I was, and how right this novel is, building from small domestic observations and cunning dramatic turnaboutstoward a wise and ample vision of human romantic folly." (Walter Kirn, author of Mission to America and Thumbsucker)
"Such a rare delight: a smart, elegant, madly romantic comedy with characters who seem perfectly, charmingly real as they swerve and stumble from fairy tale to social satire and back again. If you ever wished there were more Jane Austen and Laurie Colwin novels to read, or more Preston Sturges and George Cukor movies to watch, your dream has hereby come true." (Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday)
"Beginner's Greek is either an incisive romantic comedy or a feel-good social satire; it hardly matters, it's a huge entertainment. With his big, sloppy heart and astringent soul, James Collins is the new Jane Austen, only taller." (Larry Doyle, author of I Love You, Beth Cooper)
"James Collins is on home turf when it comes to the secret world of the American aristocracy. He knows these people uncomfortably well. I enjoyed it enormously." (Julian Fellowes, author of Snobs)
"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 Lucia, Lucia and Big Stone Gap)
"Entertaining...the perfect airplane novel." (The San Francisco Chronicle 2008-01-00)
"unabashedly romantic" (New Yorker 2008-01-00)
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The characters are either too perfect for words (Holly), aka unreal, pretentious (Charlotte), philanderering jerks (most of the males), or very unnoteworthy (the main male character, who lacks the guts to do anything).
There is unneccessary backstory and characters, and the actual ending can be called from page five.
Didn't enjoy this book at all, and was racing just to merely finish it.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I really hope that James Collins is hard at work on his second novel, because when I finished this one, I was truly disappointed to learn that this was the only published work of a writer who I think is truly talented. I can't wait to read more from him.
That's too bad because it has everything that would appeal to that starry eyed group: A handsome, grieving widower, who happens to be one of the world's richest men, is rejected by a beautiful young woman who loves a sweet, sensitive nebbish whom she met on a trans continental flight and who promptly lost her telephone number and name. They pine for each other until their paths cross again years later. But now she is married to his philandering best friend who gets struck by lightening on a golf course during a rain storm after copulating with the youngish step mother of the bride who has just married (and soon to be divorced from )the sensitive nebbish. It all ends happily: The grieving billionaire, great guy that he is, hosts the wedding reception for his lost love and the sensitive nebbish. At the wedding reception he meets and is enchanted by the stepmother, now divorced and with a child whose father is the sizzled philanderer.
This novel is set in a fantasy world where the nebbish-hero is brilliant and devastatingly charming but modest, the heroine is gorgeous and pure, the villains get their just deserves, the beautiful slut finds happiness with another woman and one of the world's richest men is just as down to earth as you and me and the local butcher. The book was hyped as a comedy but the laughs were a few rueful smiles
Written by a former editor at Time magazine , this first fiction book once again proves the adage that not every journalist can be a novelist.