Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Even In Paradise b Chelsey Philpot
Release Date - October 14, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now
The cover of Even In Paradise reminds me of summer. A summer that you never want to end. Just like those summers Charlotte's time with the Buchanan's feels dizzying, exciting, and, sadly, like all summers, must come to an end. A novel that brings to mind both The Great Gatsby, and The Kennedys there was something magical about both the Buchanan's and the novel itself.

The Buchanan family shines the brightest in this novel. I wish I could say the same of Charlotte, but she is eclipsed by this larger than life family. It's easy to see how she'd be drawn to all of them. How easy it would be to fall into their orbit and never want to leave. They are the sun and their pull is just as strong. However, as everyone knows, the sun can burn you if you stay in it's presence too long.

Nostalgia fills this book. It reads like a fond memory that is tinged with bittersweetness. It's message is one of seizing the moments when they are there, even if you know that they are fleeting. Charlotte's journey, while life changing for her, is a quieter one. One tinged with growing up, and stumbling along the way.

This novel, of course, will be compared to The Great Gatsby. It's influence is certainly felt. Charlotte is an 'every girl' who finds herself swept up into a world of excess, extravagance and parties. Like in Gatsby, you'll find yourself wishing for a happy ending instead of the inevitability to an unhappy one. One cannot help but also be reminded of The Kennedys when reading of the Buchanans. This family has a similar, untouchable feel to them. A little cursed, a little blessed, a little dazzling, a little broken, and, above all else, alluring.

The friendship between Charlotte and Julia is the prominent relationship in the novel. It is more important than the romance. A strong female friendship that lacks any elements of competition, and backstabbing was a refreshing change. Charlotte and Julia are there for each other, as much as they can be.

The twists and turns of the story were unexpected. I thought I knew what was going to happen, and how it would end. I was delighted to find out that it ended up not being what I expected at all. It was heartbreaking, yes, but in an unexpected way. I think the ending was stronger for the fact that it wasn't quite what I anticipated and welcomed the element of surprise.

Filled with wistfulness, longing, and a lot of heartache, Even In Paradise chases off the bitter chill of fall, and makes you long to cling to those last moments of summer warmth. It makes you nostalgic for beginnings where everything and anything is possible, but also reminds of the brutal, aching sadness of endings.

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