BOOK: If I Forget You
AUTHOR: Thomas Christopher Greene
PUBLISHER: Thomas Dunne Books
MY RATING: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time.
Written in lyrical prose, If I Forget You is at once a great love story, a novel of marriage, manners, and family, a meditation on the nature of art, a moving elegy to what it means to love and to lose, and how the choices we make can change our lives forever.
I received an advanced reading copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.
Unfortunately, If I Forget You is a book I will likely come to forget.
Don’t get me wrong, the book itself is an entertaining enough read, but it lacks that certain something that makes a book special. The characters are okay, the plot is okay, the build up is okay, the romance is okay. But that’s just it – everything in this book is simply okay.
“Henry has never stopped looking for her. Twenty-one years, and some have slid past faster than others, and in between there has been lots of living, the standard victories and defeats that constitute a life, but Margot, the idea of her, the essential memory of her, has been his one constant truth, like a poem he has committed to memory and holds always in the back of his mind.”
Henry & Margot are two people from two different worlds who stumble into each others lives during college. Henry is a poor scholarly type, and Margot comes from a wealthy family. While the two had a strong connection when they were young, circumstances have driven them apart, and the two have not seen each other for many years. One day, Henry runs into Margot on the streets, fate seeming to have pulled them together again. Again the two are drawn into each others lives, but time has changed them both, and some secrets can’t stay hidden.
“And this is the part of love that no one tells you about: that you can be far apart and if you close your eyes and push your face into the pillow, you can reach across time and space and for a few moments before you fall asleep you can be together for as long as you like.”
There’s no denying that the language in this book is quite lovely. Greene has a way with words. He strings together Henry’s feelings so poetically, and I think it’s part of what makes Henry the strongest character in the book. It seems a silly point to argue, since he is also the main character, but it just feels like there is more depth to Henry than to Margot. Margot has all the potential to be something great, but she seems to squander that away, settling for less than she is capable of. It can be difficult to witness. That being said, if Henry is the more interesting of the two, Margot goes through the most character development throughout.
“Bodies come together and then fall apart. There is something simple and yet profound about this.”
Truthfully, if you’re looking for a real romance story, you’re looking in the wrong place. The love story of a young Henry & Margot is sweet enough, but if you’re looking for a big shiny happily ever after, it doesn’t happen here. That’s not to say that things don’t get resolved, it’s just that the romance aspect of this book is not really what the story is about. There are bigger themes at play here.