BEGINNER’S GREEK by James Collins

Beginners_greek I finished Beginner's Greek by James Collins today. It's the story of a young man, Peter, who falls in love at first sight with Holly, his seatmate on a cross-country flight. She falls in love with him too, and gives him her number on a piece of paper torn from a book, which he promptly loses. So he never calls her. The years pass, and he can't forget about her. Of course, he eventually crosses paths with her again, but she's married to his best friend by then. And the book takes off from there… will these two attractive New Yorkers ever tell each other how they feel? Will they end up together, or will they let circumstance or societal pressure or the fear of being honest get in the way of their happy ending?

Beginner's Greek is an entertaining, very readable book. It's not heavy (at all), but it sure is a lot of fun to read. Collins' writing is effortless – I can't think of a better way to describe it. The book just flowed. There were some pretty ludicrous plot twists, but if you suspend your need for a realistic story and just go with the flow, the book is quite enjoyable, if predictable.

A few observations:

  • All of the characters in Beginner's Greek live in a rarefied Manhattan existence, fueled primarily by Wall Street excess and profit. The book is only a year old, but given the current economic climate, it felt like it was written 50 years ago.
  • The last chapter is a bit bizarre and, in my opinion, unnecessary.
  • I was slightly annoyed that the main female character, Holly, was so perfect, while the other  women in the book, particularly Charlotte, had serious character flaws. It made me suspicious of Collins' attitude toward women. Are there two types – perfect, and the rest of us?

Beginner's Greek is a fun read. I've heard it described as chick lit in male drag, and I can see why.  Collins' wry observations about Wall Street and marriage and the effects of true love made the book even more appealing. A recommended read, as long as you know what to expect.

Please weigh in if you've read it!


  • March 11, 2009 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    It does sound like a fun premise for a book.

  • Kiki
    March 11, 2009 - 8:41 am | Permalink

    It sounds a little like the movie (not sure if it was based on a book)Serendipity, with John Cusack.

  • March 11, 2009 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m just dropping by to let you know that I’ve given you an award!

  • March 11, 2009 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Chicklit in male drag is called “lad lit.”
    You’re right about men’s attitudes about women: “…perfect, and the rest of us.” Har!
    Great review.

  • March 11, 2009 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    The storyline sounds a tad contrived but sometimes you don’t need a deep read. Sounds like it would make a good summer read. Lighter, but fun.

  • TLB
    March 11, 2009 - 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this book – an entertaining, intelligent read. It’s a good book to read after you have read something really heavy and serious.

  • Amy Weiswasser
    March 17, 2009 - 6:17 am | Permalink

    Juat finished in two days on a brief vacation. Perfect sitting by the pool read.. I couldn’t put it down!! A great, light read. Thanks for the recommendation!!

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