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.
Compact, neat, beautiful. This is one book that you can judge by it's cover. Sure, the plot is nothing new, but whole novel is just beautifully written. It's poetic in places, which of course perfectly reflects Henry, the poet turned creative writing professor.
Margot from appearances is your typical all American rich girl. Summering on Martha's Vineyard - just using summer as a verb is indicative enough of her social status- she is expected to do little more than marry well and maintain her rung on the social ladder. Yet on the inside she is different from the others. She strives to break the boundaries set for her, she feels restricted. And in Henry she finds herself. Margot and Henry couldn't be more different in upbringing, and while
Henry strives to better himself and find his place in the world, Margot
has her rich-girl life mapped out for her by her parents and peers. The
two complement each other perfectly, and knowing that they end up
leading separate lives makes the chapters detailing their youthful
college romance all the more poignant.
There is more than an echo of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence in Margot and Henry's mutual longing for each other, their desire to break the mould and find a way to be together. And fans of the TV show Gossip Girl won't be able to help but make comparisons between these two and Serena and Dan, one an infamous upper eastside social darling, the other a budding writer from Brooklyn. Forbidden love is an age old story, but one that still resonates to this day.
I devoured this book in a couple of days, eager to find out what would happen when Margot and Henry eventually met again. I'd have liked a bit more of a definitive ending as I couldn't help thinking there was more to be said. I'm surprised at the negative reviews though, this really is gorgeous.
*Thanks to Corvus Books for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for a review!*