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Book Review

Beginner's Greek, James Collins

Beginner's Greek

James Collins
Little, Brown & Company, January 2008
General Fiction

Reviewer: Monica Poling
Posted: March 10, 2008

* * * * * *

As a frequent traveler, I read the blurb for BEGINNER’s GREEK with interest. Seems that Peter, the lead character, has always fantasized that his dream woman will one day sit in the empty seat beside him on a flight to somewhere. And that’s exactly what happens. However, rather than being the “happily ever after” part of this romantic comedy, that’s the place the story begins. Peter does, in fact meet Holly, the woman of his dreams, on a flight between New York and Los Angeles. They bond over literature and soon both feel their romantic expectations building.

As soon as they had begun talking, all the momentousness of the occasion had melted away and he had felt unconsciously happy. He looked the window and saw the mighty and forbidding Rocky Mountains. Mighty and forbidding? Maybe to Lewis and Clark. He was soaring thirty thousand feet above them.

Holly and Peter exchange phone numbers and their future is looking bright. That is, until, Peter checks into his hotel room and finds that he’s completely lost Holly’s phone number.

When next we see Peter, he’s recently gotten a demonic new boss, and he’s engaged to marry Charlotte. He doesn’t love her, and knows he’s settling, after all she’s no Holly, but he likes her and knows he can do worse. Charlotte does not love Peter either, but also likes him and respects him and is also perfectly happy to settle. We also meet Peter’s best friend, Jonathan, who is boasting about his latest extra-marital affairs. Peter is not unused to hearing Jonathan brag about his many conquests, but that the fact that Jonathan has recently married no one other than Holly, has put Peter in a less tolerant mode.

And while that plot twist may seem too coincidental to be believed, that is the beauty behind the book. Peter’s world, in the scope of Collin’s book is narrowed to about 12 key players, all of them interacting with one another in dizzying multiple levels. But while the cast interact in ways nearly too complex to totally understand, Collins wraps the story in a simple outer layer.

If you are the kind of reader who secretly gobbles up Bugs Bunny cartoons, commenting on the deeper complexities of the Mel Blanc characters, this is the ideal book for you. Because while the characters may seem overly simplified in their good guy/bad guy characterizations, there are deeper themes at work here. And just as Holly once makes Peter admit that he’s a romantic at heart, so clearly is Collins. Fans of light romance should enjoy the “happily ever after” themes that run throughout the story.

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About Monica Poling

Monica Poling is the editor of -- a resource for new and emerging authors. The site features advice columns, writing prompts, writing contests and an online bookstore that lists only the works of new authors. Monica can be reached at monica "at sign"

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Copyright Info

Beginner's Greek, James Collins
Little, Brown & Company, January 2008

Review © Monica Poling, 2008

Segments quoted from this review must give credit to both the reviewer--Monica Poling and The review may not be resold or re-distributed in any manner without express, written consent from the reviewer and/or

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