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Beginner's Greek: A Novel by James Collins

Beginner's Greek: A Novel (edition 2008)

by James Collins (Author)

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5673626,470 (3.23)23
Title:Beginner's Greek: A Novel
Authors:James Collins (Author)
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2008), Edition: 1, 448 pages
Collections:To read, fiction

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Beginner's Greek by James Collins


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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
3.5 stars

Peter always wanted to meet a girl on a plane and fall in love. He meets Holly and does just that, but then... he loses her phone number. Fast-forward 12 years, and Peter is engaged to Charlotte, but he's still in love with Holly, who now happens to be married to Peter's best friend, Jonathan.

I liked this. I could have done without most of Peter's work turmoil, though some of that does play into everything else going on a bit later, but not all of it. The book does follow different characters through different parts of the book, which is kind of interesting, so the reader knows what is going on with everyone. ( )
  LibraryCin | Mar 26, 2019 |
I liked this book. This is a book about two people that you hope end up together, but you never know if it will happen. It begins with Peter and Holly meeting on an airplane and falling instantly in love. Peter takes her number, but later finds it gone. So the romance begins. This book takes you through many different areas of Peter's life and the lives of those around him. ( )
  i.should.b.reading | Jan 15, 2016 |
This was HIGHLY disappointing. The review on the back compares it to Austen...NOT OKAY TO DO THAT! It's clearly written by a man who doesn't understand women. Oy! ( )
  KatieCarella | Apr 12, 2014 |
I wanted to read BEGINNER'S GREEK because of the full-page, front-loaded, gushing review it received in The New York Times Book Review. The reviewer compared the book to "a big sunny lemon chiffon pie," to let the reader know that BEGINNER'S GREEK is light and frivolous, yet fit for a gourmet palate and with a pleasing tang. Well, that's accurate enough.

BEGINNER'S GREEK is wonderfully written, with a smooth and luscious style, understated humor, unexpected yet appropriate metaphors, a profusion of biting-yet-not-quite-cruel character studies, and a minimum of frou-frou, "virtuosic" writerly clutter.

BUT. Starting with the prologue, when Peter muses that women who read books by overrated English novelists on a plane are to be avoided at all costs, while readers of THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN are infinitely desirable, it's clear that BEGINNER'S GREEK was written for snobs. It's full of literary references for experienced readers to find, and then pat themselves on the back for catching - but it's also full of discreet contempt for intellectuals...or at least certain intellectuals. The less-perfect intellectuals who try too hard, who struggle to be sophisticated when others achieve it effortlessly.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds.

The hero of the novel, Peter Russell, is presented as an idealized nice guy - handsome, wealthy, athletic, but also charmingly earnest and just a little naive. Very sweet. The problem is, he's mostly nice by comparison. He's nice in comparison to his best friend, a manipulative and deeply selfish philanderer. The friendship alone suggests something might be wrong with Peter - the fact that Peter hates his best friend, but maintains the friendship, confirms it. He's nice in comparison to his boss, a cartoonishly villainous man whose days are spent plotting Peter's downfall. It's hard not to come out ahead in that comparison. And we're led to believe that Peter is nice because he's marrying Charlotte, an annoying and humorless woman he doesn't love...or even like that much. I'm sorry, I don't think that's nice at all.

Especially since meanwhile, Peter is in love with Holly. Holly couldn't be more perfect. She is gorgeous, she is kind, she is smart, she is a good listener, she is thoughtful, she is educated, she is funny. She is a composite of womanly virtues. She also happens to be in love with Peter. But circumstances keep them apart - and that, of course, is the meat of BEGINNER'S GREEK.

In fact, for the first two-thirds of the novel circumstances really go to town on Peter and Holly. Just as it starts to look like Peter and Holly might finally have their chance, some improbable disaster intervenes to separate them. Further events clear the obstacle, but before anything can happen another improbable disaster sunders them anew. This makes for an incredibly anxious reading experience. Perhaps it is to the author's credit, but I would have to call it an unpleasantly anxious reading experience.

BEGINNER'S GREEK is a smart, well-written, frequently insightful book. But the bad impression I had of Peter at the beginning was slow to dissipate, the sly sneers at the reader enraged me, and the plotting was occasionally ridiculous. For me, the negatives were stronger than the positives. ( )
  MlleEhreen | Sep 20, 2013 |
This novel was the perfect vacation read. I wanted something light and enjoyable and easy to get into. Collins' has been compared to Jane Austen and I can see why. This story is very much an updated version of the trials and tribulation faced by Austen's characters, except that we are treated to many more sordid details about infidelity and the ways men and women relate to each other. You could say it's Jane Austen meets Woody Allen.
Collins' prose is elegant and the story was much more sophisticated and literary then I expected. ( )
  KristySP | Apr 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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To Virginia Dance Donelson
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When Peter Russell boarded an airplane, he always wondered whether he would sit next to a beautiful young women during the flight, and, if so, whether he and she would fall in love.
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Book description
Peter Russell is zo'n jongen die gelooft in romantiek en het noodlot. Hij gelooft, en stelt zich altijd voor, dat hij de liefde van zijn leven plots zal tegenkomen. Dat hij haar plotseling zal zien terwijl hij in een vliegtuig zit. Hij ontmoet Holly tijdens een zakenvlucht tussen New York en Los Angeles, en zoals in de beste romantische films worden Peter en Holly ontzettend verliefd voor zover dat kan gedurende een vijfenhalf uur durende vlucht. Door stom toeval laat hij haar echter door zijn vingers glippen. Zij trouwt met zijn beste vriend Jonathan, en hij met Charlotte, op wie hij niet verliefd is. Duizenden problemen passeren de revue in deze geweldige roman vol gemiste kansen, tweede kansen en verloren liefdes. Parallelle liefdes is een indrukkende combinatie van Thomas Wolfe en Laurie Colwin. Het is een briljante komedie compleet met een onaangename baas, een verleidelijke versierder, miscommunicaties, misleidingen en zoekgeraakte brieven. Door deze roman ga je, net als Peter, geloven dat echte liefde bestaat.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316021555, Hardcover)

James Collins's Beginner's Greek is a tender tale of how love conquers all, even if it takes longer than some might be willing to wait. Chick Lit fans especially will appreciate the uniquely male perspective that Collins, who spent most of his career as a journalist and an investment banker, brings to this modern fairy tale.

When 27-year-old Peter Russell boards a cross-country flight to Los Angeles, he fully expects to sit next to the love of his life. As luck would have it, he sits next to Holly Edwards, with whom he falls in love instantly. A lost phone number leads to years of wondering "what if," until Peter's best friend Jonathan introduces him to his new girlfriend, who is of course the same Holly of Peter's dreams. After Jonathan and Holly marry, Peter settles down with Charlotte, a Francophile who Peter tries to tolerate, but mostly just evokes feelings of pity and hatred. Of course, as with any fairy tale, the possibility for a happy ending is never truly out of reach, and Beginner's Greek is chock full of twists and turns to keep the action going.

While some of the dialogue may make readers feel like they just stepped out of a Victorian novel ("Oh no! I had no idea it was so late! Poor Peter! I'm sure you were coming to fetch me!"), Collins's characters convey enough depth to keep readers engaged through some of the more fanciful stretches of this captivating novel. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Peter Russell is a deeply romantic guy who believes the woman of his dreams is destined to sit next to him on an airplane. Holly is a pretty, strawberry blonde woman who reads Thomas Mann for pleasure. As Pete sits next to her, he falls deeply in love, and asks for her telephone number. Later that night in his hotel room, he discovers that the page from her book that contained her telephone number is gone.… (more)

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