The Buchanans' pull was as natural and strong as the moon on the tides, and when I was with them I was happy in the warmth of their reflected light....Even knowing as I do now, that grace, power, and, yes, love can hide the darkest elements of the human heart, I would do it all again. Beginning with the night I met her, then him, then the rest. I would do it all again just to know that for a moment I was one of the Great Buchanans.
So begins Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot. After reading about this book on several other book blogs, I really wanted to read it myself. Charlotte is a junior at a private boarding school in New England. A chance meeting one night with, and then a semi-rescue of, the new student Julia Buchanan changes the trajectory of Charlotte's life. Julia is the daughter of a wealthy former Congressman whose family suffered a tragedy several years earlier. Julia and Charlotte (whom Julia immediately dubs Charlie) become fast friends and all of the Buchanans come to love Charlie. They see her as a lifeline for Julia who has had a difficult past few years. Everything seems nearly perfect for a while, but that near perfection cannot last...even in paradise.
I really liked this book. The characters are lovely and allow the reader a peek into the life of high society, beach houses in the Hamptons, and Ivy League colleges. This is, of course, rather fantastical, but it still makes for fun read. The characters are not without flaws, but that makes them all the more likable. While things are going well, Charlie and Julia are happy and quickly become the best of friends and the reader enjoys their friendship.
Beatitudo nos efficit omnes stultos. Happiness makes us all fools.
When Julia begins to struggle again, her family depends on Charlie to help bring her back from the brink. This is a lot of responsibility to put onto an eighteen-year-old girl and as a reader I found this part difficult to believe.
This book didn't exactly end the way I would have liked, but once I turned the last page, I could appreciate the author's choices. The title of the book alone clues one in that it won't be a happily-ever-after ending, but I liked that Charlie is such a strong female character. This was a very good book and I think you'll like it. Pick it up and let me know what you think.