Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano: A review

 

Hello Beautiful is essentially a retelling of the plot of Little Women. We have the four Padavano sisters instead of the March sisters. Instead of Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth, we have Julia, Sylvie, Cecilia, and Emiline. They are part of a Catholic household with a devout mother who taught them to respect the saints and a loving father who was a dreamer unable to provide an adequate financial base for his family. The book's title is the greeting that their father always used for his daughters. 

Julia is the ambitious high-achiever in the family. She is like a second mother to the other girls. Sylvie is the romantic who is waiting for a man to come along and sweep her off her feet. Cecilia and Emeline are twins who tend to live in their own world but they have quite different personalities. Cecilia is forthright and plain-speaking. Emeline is the peacemaker in the family who tries to make everyone feel better.

Then along comes William, an introvert from a family that neglected him. He had a sister who died as a child and his parents were stuck with her memory and unable to move on. 

William's salvation comes when he starts playing basketball with his peers. He finds a community and support with his teammates. He goes to Northwestern University on a basketball scholarship and meets Julia Padavano and the ambitious high-achiever chooses him to be her husband. But marrying Julia really means he is marrying the whole Padavono clan.

William's basketball career ends in injury. Julia, the fixer, sets out to make William into her ideal husband. That includes making him a college professor. They have a daughter, Alice. But then Julia's plans go a bit awry. 

William is overcome by depression and tries to end it all but fortunately, he is unsuccessful in the attempt. Sylvie becomes his salvation who pulls him back into life.

This is a family drama that draws the reader in and makes her care about all of these characters. Each character is multi-layered and three-dimensional in their make-up. Moreover, each of the sisters felt like a personal friend and I wanted the best for each of them. It isn't often that I feel so emotionally invested in characters and it is very rare indeed that I feel that a novel is worthy of a five-star rating. This is that book. 






Comments

  1. Sounds interesting. I usually do enjoy the reworking of classic plots and/or characters, so this is one I'll be looking for. For some reason or another, I never managed to complete Little Women but I have seen so many movies versions of the novels and so many other novels based on the family that I sometimes forget that. I have a copy on my shelves...maybe it's time to revisit it.

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    1. I read "Little Women" as a child and, honestly, can't remember much from that experience, but, like you, I've seen many movies based on the book and those are more vividly remembered. I do generally find books that are based on, or retelling of, classics interesting. It's always fun to compare them to the original.

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  2. Wow 5 stars. Good to know! I heard many are liking this novel & finding it moving. I'll add it to my list. An updated March sisters story is cool with me.

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    1. I wavered a bit between 4 and 5 stars, but in the end, I couldn't find anything to complain of about the book and that seemed like 5 stars to me!

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