Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beginner's Greek, by James Collins

Plot summary for Beginner's Greek: Boy meets girl on airplane. Girl gives boy her digits. Boy loses girl's digits. Boy loses girl. Girl marries boy's best friend a few years later. Boy gives up all hope of getting together with girl and marries another woman.

So far, sounds like a romantic comedy. A pair of star-crossed lovers, fated to be together, but they aren't. Will they ever have a second chance at love?

I know, I know, we've all heard of this same old story in many different variations. But Beginner's Greek takes the classic boy meets girl story and adds several layers of sophistication.

For example, Collins likes to focus not only on his protagonists, Peter and Holly, but his secondary characters, particularly their love stories. At the beginning of the novel, he writes about Peter's boss, Arthur, who was completely distraught after his wife died of cancer at a young age, and vowed never to marry again. He writes about Peter's stepmother in law, and how her parents' divorce and subsequent re-marriages affected her view on love.

All of the descriptions of the secondary characters' experiences may seem trivial at first, but they play an important part of the novel as it progresses. And that's what makes Beginner's Greek so intriguing. How do the parts of this puzzle fit together? Why is Collins telling us all of these stories? Do they affect the core essence of the story, which is about Peter and Holly falling in love?

There are so many themes in this book, but the primary ones deal with love. What is love? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Can people get second chances at love?

I really enjoyed this book. Collins kept me in suspense as I read it; I really wanted to find out if Peter and Holly were really going to get together, and I kept reading as fast as I could to find out what roadblocks would be thrown at them. The subplots helped out too; the whole time I kept thinking, "Why is he writing about this?" As the novel progresses, it's neat to see how everything weaves together.

If you're looking for a twist on the traditional boy-meets-girl story, you won't be disappointed in Beginner's Greek. Be prepared, though, to sit for a while as you read each chapter, as they're 30 pages long on average. But trust me, it's all worth it.

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, as well as my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge. As always, click on the buttons in the sidebars for all of the archived lists!


septembermom said...

I like an author who gives a substantial look into all the characters' story lines and development. I think I'll add this one to my list. Sounds good!

Jenners said...

Sounds like a nice little spin on a classic formula! Perfect summer reading.

Anonymous said...

A suspense love story, sounds good to me!