Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After: A Novel
Samantha Sotto's Before Ever After is a magical story about love, loss, and making the ultimate sacrifice for the person you love.  Shelley is still devastated by the sudden death of her husband Max three years earlier when she has an unexpected visitor.  A young Italian man named Paolo shows her photos of his grandfather, and when Shelley looks at the photos, it's Max she sees.  The catch?  There's no way Max could have been Paolo's grandpa because her Max was not that old.  But why then does the man in the photos never seem to age?  When Shelley and Paolo set off on a journey to try to solve the puzzle, Shelley reminisces about how she and Max met and the stories he told that might unveil the truth about her husband.  Is Max still alive and immortal?  Shelley hopes (and fears) that she might find him and finally know the truth.

Before Ever After is a beautiful love story.  It flips between the present and Shelley's memories of the group tour she took through Europe where she met Max.  The stories he told the group at the time seemed like just that, but now Shelley is picking up pieces of who Max really is by remembering the stories.  The book was really easy to follow and the flipflopping flowed well.

Sotto is a great writer.  She captures Shelley's emotions so well that I could really feel her grief when Max died.  I could also feel her disbelief and later her acceptance when she was shown Paolo's photos and started wondering who Max really was. 

The flashbacks to Max's stories were my favorite part because they are so vivid and the history of each location and time are really brought to life by Sotto's descriptions.  I also learned a little about French history.  I looked it up, and "The Bloody Week" of Paris in 1871 that is described in the book really did happen.  Info is here.  I can't believe that I never heard of this major event in French history, having a French degree and taking countless numbers of French history classes and all that.  You learn something new every day! 

I'd recommend Before Ever After to anyone who loves a good timeless love story that makes you feel all warm and happy inside, and to anyone who also loves good writing.  Let me know your thoughts if you've read it, or if you plan on reading it!  It is a truly enchanting story and it made me want to go back to Europe!

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto is out today, August 2nd, through the Crown Publishing Group!  Get your copy today :)

Now some favorite quotes:
Page 83: Shelley had first come to the conclusion that age was a sound when she went hunting for a place after she first moved to London....
Page 230: "I know there's no magical potion to preserve my life or Sheila's," Dex said, still holding on to Shelley's hand.  "And I know that the time will come when her voice won't be as crystal clear in my head.  But even when every detail has dulled, I know that I'll always have something that not even time can take away.  Pain."
Shelley's hand stiffened against Dex's palm.  "And that's a good thing?"
"Yes, because when I've forgotten everything else, I'll feel that ache...that tightness in my throat...that heaviness in my chest...and know that I loved a woman once and she loved me back.  It's proof that I existed and so did she."

Title: Before Ever After
Author: Samantha Sotto (@samanthasotto on twitter)
Date of Publication: August 2nd, 2011
Number of Pages: 294
Genre: Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher


  1. Never heard of this book. Sounds very interesting, thanks for the review.

  2. I like the sound of this. A little different. Adding to the wishlist. Thanks for the review

  3. I'm glad to hear that this is a keeper! I have the ARC but haven't gotten to it and I was a little uncertain of whehter it was a smarmy love story or a cute love story. Sounds like it's the latter, hooray!

  4. I have read this book and loved it to bits. Samanthe Sotto is one very, gifted writer.

  5. Good gracious, this sounds right up my alley. My shallow self appreciated the cover of the book initially, and now the storyline pulls me in. How nuts would that be to get a visitor like that and to think that the love of your life might still be alive. I love the idea of it.

  6. I really enjoyed this book. I loved each and every character. Although I found some parts of the book drag a bit... by the end I was in tears. This book really hit hard in my heart and has changed how I view love in my life.