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.
Julia H. (Excelsior, MN)
Before Ever After
I was completely captivated by Samantha Sotto's novel, Before Ever After. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but when I sat down to read it, it was difficult to tear myself away. I liked Shelley's character a lot, it's difficult to lose a spouse. The story moves back and forth in time, especially to the European tour Shelley took around the off the beaten track areas where she met her husband Max. The historical stories of a woman named Isabelle and her ancestors were very compelling and touched on many areas of history. I think the twists in the story would make it great for book club discussions.
Elly M. (Roswell, NM)
Definite Thumbs Up!
On several occasions, I have found debut novels to be great reads and certainly "Before Ever After" is no exception. Well, except, perhaps, it goes beyond simply being a "great read".
I was immediately drawn into the story by Sotto's excellent writing skills, finding myself willingly carried off on a thought-provoking adventure. Her characters were so well portrayed that I felt a comfortable kinship to them and enjoyed being in their company. Having traveled to two of the locations in the novel might have some bearing on my feelings of "being there", but the author painted all locales with a sense of familiarity.
I would strongly recommend this book to reading groups as the subject matter guarantees much discussion.
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.
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.
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.
Cathy R. (Scottsdale, AZ)
Before Ever After
Not sure if I loved the book or just liked it. All the elements were there--love story, time travel, historical novel--but the sexual innuendos and chicken themes were distracting. It is a light read with deeper undertones that had they been developed would certainly have warranted a higher rating for the book.