Beginner’s Greek is a modern urban fairytale with fable-like archetypes and improbable twists of fate. It is unabashedly and quite unsubtly about love with the Austenesque quandries of true love vs. our society’s practicality.
The story centers on Peter Russell a young Wall Street financial guy who is wildly and somewhat unbelievably romantic. He believes that fate will one day sit him next to the woman of his dreams – his soul mate – on an airplane flight. This indeed comes true when Holly comes in – last person on the plane - to sit next to Peter on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. Over the next five hours they talk and shyly fall in love and Holly gives Peter her phone number. Of course because fate is a wicked mistress, by the time Peter gets to his hotel he has mysteriously lost the piece of paper with her number. When Peter and Holly next meet it is in New York and Holly is preparing to marry Peter's asshole best friend and after much anguishing Peter is now marrying a girl he cares for but with whom he isn’t in love. There marriage is proper one and a good match from society’s perspective. He thinks “we’ll be happy enough.” and the novel goes on from there with several more characters entering the mix and the many aspects and challenges of love are explored as the plot wends its way.
The writing in this book is highly enjoyable. It’s like champagne and popcorn – bubbly, airy, and crisp. Full of pop. What could have been an EXTREMELY cheesy, sappy novel isn’t really though it has its moments.
Its biggest weakness for me were the characters who were all intellectual New York Bourgeosie – they really started to grate by the end. I also got a little irritated with the author’s vision of Holly. While he paints Peter with a fairly realistic brush making him cowardly, and a little boring and handsome but in a generic sort of way, he makes Holyy perfect. She’s beautiful and so completely charming that everyone she meets instantly likes her; she’s funny and kind, generous and altruistic while being so refreshingly down to earth. Frankly, it’s sickening and he overdid it in my book because I started to wonder what the amazing Holly saw in boring, schlubby Peter.
My overall opinion was that it was a fun read. Simple and entertaining while not rotting my brain. I'd give it 3 1/2 stars if I could.