Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max - same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose - he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.
As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down if it is really Max and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.
"First-time author Sotto's lush literary gifts draw one in to the terrible beauty of her tale of immortality..." - Library Journal
"A smartly written romance, mystery and historical adventure all wrapped up in a page-turner that will have you guessing until the very end." Adena Halpern, author of The Ten Best Days of My Life
"I was floored by the gutsy scope of this highly unusual love story. Before Ever After is one of those books that challenges the natural laws of fiction writing, and Samantha Sotto pulls it off in a frisky and highly entertaining way." Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of Juliet
"I was absolutely enchanted by Before Ever After. It's a highly original and engaging mix of romance, mystery and magic that will challenge everything you think you know about happily ever after." Jill Smolinski, author of The Next Thing on My List
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Rated of 5
Unique and Intriguing
We had to make reports on books written by Filipino's and I chose this book. It may be Samantha Sotto's first book but I have to say that I was hooked from the start. It had a unique perspective and it shifted from different times and places. The plot was very well done with surprising twists and turns that made it much more intriguing. Credits to Samantha Sotto for a very good book.
Rated of 5
Ivy P. (Doylestown, PA)
Detailed and Interesting
I found “Before Ever After” to be consistently enjoyable. The language and tone was fun yet thoughtful and tended to remind me to laugh more than I expected. I liked the intriguing mix of mystery, eclectic locales, and especially the main character’s curiously amusing observational style. I’m not sure I would recommend it for a typical book club, but I do admit that I thought there was actually quite a lot that I would discuss with a close friend. I enjoyed reading this book in many sittings, but I delighted in it most when I really got a chance to sit down and spend real time soaking up the constantly changing settings and moods.
Rated of 5
Jeanne C. (Ventura, CA)
Not for Me
I loved the quirkiness of Amanda Sotto’s writing, the delightful coupling of unexpected items. I had a hard time following the storyline at times; it felt disjointed. The book is well-written. However, the many vignettes of suffering, pain, and destruction depressed me and nearly caused me to stop reading the book. The depressing vignettes did have a purpose in the weaving of the story, but perhaps there were just too many of them. The ending was a surprise.
Rated of 5
Kristin P. (Elburn, IL)
Before Ever After
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was one of the most creative books that I have read in years. It was well-executed and unlike other recent books that stretch the creativity bounds- Before Ever After's creativity was believable. This book is a great individual read, however, I would not recommend the book for a book club. This book exemplifies the art of storytelling, but it is not set-up for the typical book club analysis. If you like Audrey Niffenegger give this book a try.
Rated of 5
Laurette A. (Rome, New York)
A totally surprising and very satisfying read
"Before Ever After" took me literally by surprise. Samanth Sotto's first novel hooked me from the beginning and slowly reeled me into the story to the point where I had to make myself stop reading in order to get anything else done. Without giving the plot away let me say that the author is a great storyteller and I highly recommend this book that others have described as a romance-mystery-historical adventure. This book is a winner and was tailor-made for book clubs and possibly a movie! My only regret is that Ms. Sotto did not include the recipe for Max's baked eggs! You won't be disappointed reading this.
Rated of 5
She did a good job for her first book
I really liked this book. I did have to go back & re read the first three chapters to get on board. Once I did I totally got it.
The chicken theme, in my opinion made the story more interesting.
I was disappointed that there was a recipe included for the special egg dish.
Samantha Sotto fell in love with Europe's cobbled streets and damp castles when she moved to the Netherlands as a teenager. Since then, she has spent nights huddled next to her backpack on a Greek beach, honeymooned in Paris, and attended business meetings in Dusseldorf in the pleasant company of a corporate credit card. Before Ever After was inspired by her experiences living, studying, and traveling through Europe. This is her first novel. You can visit her online at www.samanthasotto.com.
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