Thursday, August 04, 2011

Meeting Before Ever After's author Samantha Sotto tomorrow

Who hasn't heard of Samantha Sotto? (If you haven't, do you not have Facebook/Twitter/online life? No? Then... good for you!)

A couple of weeks ago, Samantha exploded into our consciousness with the launch of her first novel, Before Ever After. I missed the launch because I was in Bali but because of my wonderful group of mommy bloggers, I get to meet her tomorrow! And I'm glad I will because I have a ton of questions about her book!

But before that, let me warn that if you haven't read the book, you should stop reading this post if you don't want any spoilers. I'll try not to give away too much but that's kinda hard to do if you're doing a book review!

Before Ever After is the story of Shelley, a young widow who finds out that her husband Max is actually alive. The thought is both wonderful and agonizing because if he had been alive all this time, why'd he leave her? The question takes her (and Paolo, Max's grandson, another person Max loved and left) on a loooong trip from London to Boracay and back in time to find out the truth of her husband's identity, history and, well, if he ever really loved her in the first place.

It's a lovely story and I like that I never was able to predict how it was going to end. That's a sign of good storytelling. Being a history buff, I loved how each period in time was used to build the story and the character of Max. What I didn't like was the flowery language (too chick lit for a horror/fantasy girl like me, but that's not Samantha's fault). I also think that while it was obvious to the reader how totally lovable Max is--sexy, funny, smart and fabulously wealthy--I just couldn't fall in love with Shelley. All I know of her is she's gorgeous and young and sad. Maybe that's enough for some people, but if I were funny, sexy, smart and fabulously wealthy Max, I'd fall for someone more interesting.

Then again, vulnerability does have its charms. As Tina Fey said in A Mother's Prayer for her Child, "May she be beautiful but not damaged, for it's the damage that draws the creepy soccer coach's eye, not the beauty." And Shelley was very damaged. And as you find out more about Max, he is, well, kinda creepy! In a sexy kinda way, of course.

A guide to the places in Before Ever After

But aside from that little underdeveloped character aspect, I did like Before Ever After. I finished it in 8 hours! While my favorite books are by Stephen King, Tolkien, Carroll, Atwood, Rowling, Gaiman and the like, I did find this love story to be a page-turner. So if you're a romance-novel lover, you'll enjoy this book immensely.

I guess what fascinated me was it wasn't really a love story for me as it is a story about grief and how people cope with it. Grief is a strange thing. Some people go crazy, some wallow, some get busy with life to forget the pain, some overcompensate, some celebrate the life lost, some just never get over it. Well, as someone who is familiar with death, I can confidently assure you that no, you never get over it. You just learn to live without that love. The closest I can compare it with is learning to live after you lost your sight or your leg or your hand. You can live, you can be happy again, but it's just never going to be the same.

For me, Before Ever After is a story of grief and how it is to live with grief. Samantha describes the different ways of coping so well that I cried twice, brought back to that hidden place in my soul that I rarely visit. Of course, the great thing about grief is it is only great if the love was great. You cannot grieve over trifles.

So as the story of love unfolds--love between a couple in their golden years, love between a man and his ailing wife, love between a grandfather and a little boy, love between two men, love of a father, and of course the love Shelley and Max had--the threat and reality of loss is ever present and Samantha succeeds in making me feel like my own loves can never end happily ever after because we will all die and then there is the end. So what I should do is truly nurture the relationships I have and love the people I treasure while they are still here. Because who knows what tomorrow will bring? So love now, love deep, love true!

* * * * * * *
Okidoki, so I'm meeting Sam tomorrow and if you have any questions for her, send to me at

To know more about her and her book, click here.

And to those who asked me if this is my first time to meet and talk to a published author, uh no. Writers aren't very rare. Good writers are! I know several authors, work with a few, was taught by a handful and, most deliciously, I sleep with a really hot one.


  1. I got my copy yesterday. Now I'm contemplating what to read first, BEA or Book 5 of Game of Thrones. Got a really good haul from the National Bookstore cut price sale. Envious that you get to meet her! Lucky girl!

  2. Wow! That was a nice video teaser. I'm not into romance novels but that made me kilig :) I picked up BEA on its launch date here, July 27 (I didn't know there was going to be a sale!). Haven't read it yet because I'm still spending time with Jason Bourne haha. After reading this post, I think I'll start on it tonight. Thanks for the review. Don't worry, you didn't spoil anything. I'd still love to read and find out for myself what happened. :)

  3. As I have recently lost my mother, I got choked up when you said " never get over it. You just learn to live without that love. The closest I can compare it with is learning to live after you lost your sight or your leg or your hand. You can live, you can be happy again, but it's just never going to be the same." Well put Frances. This is exactly how my Dad and I feel.

  4. I really like that last line about the writer you sleep with every night. :) Hi to my old English classmate, Vince. :)

  5. i'll get my copy today, good thing national bookstore is on sale! yay!

  6. i got a copy this noon... will skip this blog of yours for now and come back to it once i am done... i have now on the 8th page

  7. Frances! Didn't see you today. Left your signed copy on your desk!

  8. Hey, Frances! It was great meeting you today! Your little boy was ADORABLE - I wanted to eat him up! :D Catch you in Twitterverse! :)

  9. Frances! Inggit ako! I wish I were in Manila right now so I could get a copy of the book.

  10. Clarissahana, HUGS!

    TinC, sigh. I'm so in love with my writer lover =D

    Tisha, thanks for getting me a signed book!!! My purchased copy's going to my mom-in-law--had Samantha sign it too =)

    Samantha, so lovely to meet you! You're so makulit and charming. And very inspiring. Finish your second book na =)

    Thanks everybody! Have fun reading Before Ever After!


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