Before Ever After: Book summary and reviews of Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After

A Novel

by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Published in USA  Aug 2011
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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

The information about Before Ever After shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Ella

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.

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.

Deb R

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.

Judy H

Great Read
This is ambitious. Hedonism, existentialism, darkness, resilience, comedy, familial love, romantic love, true love – themes that are explored in this novel that at some point in our lives, we’ve experienced either in a small, medium or encompassing way. The clever use of vignettes to portray these themes as Max is constructed (or deconstructed depending on an individual’s point of view) is where, in my opinion, the ambition of the book coincides with its brilliance.

All in all, the combination of the vignettes and the various contexts it gives, the dry Brit humor, excellent historical backdrops, and the dash of the supernatural make this an excellent and entertaining read for the summer. Definitely a two thumbs up.

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.

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.

...18 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

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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