Two men, George and Henry, meet by accident on the streets of Athens. Both men are in Greece to study the ancient – George to learn ancient languages, and Henry to aide in an archaeological dig. They share something else as well: George has recently had his heartbroken by Rebecca, the very same woman with whom Henry has embarked on a romantic affair. All three are trying to come to grips with the ghosts of their past, and their unlikely friendship represents the hope that their futures will contain something brighter. The story, however, really digs in after Rebecca is killed when an earthquake strikes Athens. The bulk of the novel explores the distinct and unexpected ways George and Henry respond to this event.
This book isn’t perfect, and van Booy’s style likely won’t appeal to everyone. However, there is so much emotion in his prose that I couldn’t help but feel swept away. It’s heartbreaking and gorgeous, an examination of what it means to give your entire self to someone else and to survive the worst kinds of loss.