Book Review | Everything Beautiful Began After

Everything Beautiful Began After

Simon Van Booy is a writer for those who truly love and enjoy the written word — those who possess the ability to fall in love with a line and cherish a book for a single sentence. Luckily this work contains many beautifully crafted sentences, as well as complex characters that both break your heart and induce inspiration.

He told her that language owes its existence and identity to what it can never be, only to what it can point at. For the sound of language is the very embodiment of desire. And despite its greatest efforts, language is destined only to fail. 

Everything Beautiful Began After opens with the introduction of the central theme — of finding oneself in the least likely of locations with the least likely of company, and of becoming who we will be — whether intended or not — because of our unique exchanges.

For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home. Places where lonely people can live in exile of their own lives — far from anything that was ever imagined for them.

From the beginning, Van Booy unravels his first of three central characters, a beautiful red-headed French woman named Rebecca, who has moved to Greece to become a painter. A twin, Rebecca moves into the foreign world without her sister for the first time. Her anonymity in this new land, and her lack of a connection leads her to reach out to an unlikely character.

Loneliness is like being the only person left alive in the universe, except that everyone else is still there.

Through a chance encounter, Rebecca meets a young American Southern gentleman who quickly falls in love with this beautiful woman. When a third central character is introduced, a tangled web develops into a mix of unrequited love, heartbreak, and that inexplicable bliss of falling in love for the first time.

She had anticipated the event that rooted him to loneliness. She could feel the winter that defined him. 

The author, Simon Van Booy

Just as the young lovers begin to align their lives, the chaos and uncertainty of this existence changes their world and their relationships. It is their responses to these changes that forge the rest of their time, the conscious decisions they make, rather than surrendering merely to the idea of fate.

Fate is for the broken, the selfish, the simple, the lost, and the forever lonely — a distant light comes no closer, nor ever completely disappears.

What Van Booy is able to capture is in the detailed layers of his characters as he masterfully reveals their strengths and weaknesses, their purest forms and their darkest dimensions. His craft with the language seems effortless. His writing unveils his personal interest in philosophy, archaeology and other social sciences in a manner that supports the world in which he sketches his characters — each action seems natural, each spoken word intentional.

The beauty of artifacts is in how they reassure us we’re not the first to die.

Ultimately this book is about being tested with the realization of one’s immortality and whether some losses are greater than the loss of our own existence. It’s equally an exploration on whether we can ever truly know another, despite living symmetrical lives, despite deep and profound love. Everything Beautiful Began After is a fantastic work, written by a thoughtful and talented author.


Sarah Aylward received a copy of this book from the publisher, Harper Perennial.


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