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Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Even in Paradise

by Chelsey Philpot

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This is the second book I've read this year that's a retelling of [b:The Great Gatsby|4671|The Great Gatsby|F. Scott Fitzgerald|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1428718059s/4671.jpg|245494], the other book being [b:Great|18090059|Great|Sara Benincasa|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1372088639s/18090059.jpg|19554811]. Oddly enough, both of them involve non-heterosexuals and gender-swapped characters. It's hard to say for sure, but I think Charlotte plays the duel role of both Gatsby and Nick: her friendship and maybe-could-be-quasi-romance with Julie (Daisy); her romance and eventual disgust with Sebastian's (Jordan) snobbery.

The writing is lovely and there is a sweet, dream-like feeling throughout the whole book. At one point our narrator, Charlotte, says that Gatsby's dream was "beautiful", and this follows with the theme of the book that the trying is more important than the getting.

Overall I think Great is better when it comes to a solid re-telling of The Great Gatsby, but this book succeeds in that it could stand alone as not just a re-telling. ( )
  majesdane | Aug 8, 2017 |
EVEN IN PARADISE was a story about friendship and how friendship can change lives. Charlotte Ryder is a scholarship student at St. Anne's with a close circle of friends when Julia Buchanan enrolls. Julia is a larger-than-life character from a larger-than-life family.

When Charlotte helps Julia out, she and Julia become friends. They form the kind of friendship that has Charlotte, now nicknamed Charlie, abandoning old friends and getting swept up into Julia's world of summer vacations on Nantucket, star-studded parties, drinking and pranks. She is accepted into the family by Julia's parents Boom and Teresa, her brother's Bradley and Sebastian and her younger sister Cordelia. In fact, she falls in love with Sebastian and they have a romance.

But everything isn't golden in paradise, Julia is a troubled young woman who is suffering from massive guilt regarding the death of her beloved older sister Gus. That's why she came to St. Anne's. Gus had gone there and Julia wants to learn more about her. She is trying to live up to what she believes were Gus's standards.

Charlie is an artist. She is also quite observant. She is also the sort of person who leads with her heart. She sees a troubled Julia but loves her as she loves Julia's whole family. She knows she doesn't fit into the lifestyle but hopes that love will triumph. When things fall apart, when she learns secrets that send Julia running, Charlie is strong enough to learn from the past and to use what she learned for her future.

I liked the style of the story. Charlie tells it as she remembered it and as she saw things. I had figured out the big secret pretty early on in the story but that didn't diminish the enjoyment I found in following Charlie's journey. Thoughtful readers will enjoy this story about friendships that come and go and change lives. ( )
  kmartin802 | Aug 24, 2014 |
The 5 stars is an immediate reaction--I could see this going down to 4.5 stars after some reflection, but either way it's really good. And yup, totally reminded of The Great Gatsby A Separate Peace while reading. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062293699, Hardcover)

The Great Gatsby meets Looking for Alaska in this stunning debut novel.

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne's at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about her. Most people do . . . or think they do. Charlotte certainly never expects she'll be Julia's friend. But almost immediately, she dives headfirst into the larger-than-life new girl's world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia's handsome older brother, Sebastian. But behind Julia's self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes, she is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden . . . until now.

With inspiration drawn from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Chelsey Philpot's moving debut novel perfectly captures the intensity, the thrill, and the heartbreak of our too-brief friendships and loves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

"Seventeen-year-old Charlotte 'Charlie' Ryder, a girl from a working class family whose talent for the arts has gained her entry into the exclusive St. Anne's school, is drawn into the circle of the larger-than-life Julia Buchanan, a former senator's daughter"--… (more)

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