Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot.
Published: October 14, 2014.
Published by: HarperCollins.
More from the publisher here.
Source: Borrowed an ARC from Kathy for the blog tour.
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.
A boarding school, a family secret, and some Great Gatsby flavour. That's what Even in Paradise promised me -- and on these elements, it delivered. While it didn't live up to all of my expectations and it almost felt a little too familiar, it still drew me in and intrigued me, especially when it came to the mysterious and charming Buchanans.
Even in Paradise is a very character-driven novel, so I really had to connect with them for the story to work. While the Buchanans remain largely emotionally elusive, it was easy to get drawn into Charlotte's narrative and experience the Buchanans through her. Watching as Charlotte gets pulled into Julia's world and falls for her brother, Sebastian, I couldn't help but feel that it would be hard to resist all the charm and strange excitement that they brought to her life, so I was easily able to understand her and the connections she forms with all of the Buchanans. These connections were actually some of the most interesting parts of the novel as Charlotte tries to navigate her relationships with Julia and Sebastian while also getting to know the rest of their family -- including their parents, who aren't as easy to pin down as they initially seem.
One of the things that really held me back from loving this book was its structure. I did find it somewhat slow moving on occasion, which can hinder that "I have to keep reading" feeling. I also think that it lacked a real, big climax. There were definitely some scenes that felt like they were supposed to be the climax but I found the book as a whole lacked the significant emotional peak that I expected it to have, which ultimately left me wanting. The ending definitely delivers some attempted strong emotional blows, but I think I would have needed to be able to connect to Julia herself much more to really feel it, rather than just feeling the impact it had on Charlotte.
I definitely enjoyed this one, but there were a couple of things that kept me from falling in love. But if you love stories set in boarding schools, about rich, elusive families, or that are largely character driven (and you can forgive some slow plot), I would definitely recommend you give this one a shot! Apparently this is also a retelling of Brideshead Revisited, which I have never experienced in any format, but I'd be very interested to hear what people who have think of this, so if you loved Brideshead Revisited, try Even in Paradise and share your thoughts!
Buy the book: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Chapters Indigo // IndieBound // The Book Depository
Or order a signed copy from Chelsey's local indie, River Run Bookstore.
About the author:
Chelsey Philpot grew up on a farm in New Hampshire and now works as an editor and journalist. She's written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and numerous other publications. Like her main character, Charlotte, Chelsey attended boarding school in New England. You can visit her online atwww.chelseyphilpot.com or on Twitter @ChelseyPhilpot.
Be sure to go back and check out the rest of the stops on the Canadian tour for Even in Paradise:
October 13th: Kathy - A Glass Of Wine - Interview
October 14th: Siobhan - Conversations Of A Reading Addict - Review
October 15th: Emilie - Emilie’s Book World - Guest Post
October 16th: Ambur - Burning Impossibly Bright - Review
October 17th: Lily - Lily’s Book Blog - Interview/Character Interview
October 20th: Shilpa - SukasaReads - Review
October 21st: Sabrina - Hiver et Café - Top 5 or 10
October 22nd: Ciara - Lost At Midnight Reviews - Review
October 23rd: Meaghan - Feeling A Little Bookish - Interview/Character Interview
October 24th: Jess - Read My Breath Away - Review