This is a book that has elements of Eric Segal’s novel “Love Story”; the romantic drama of two college students from different class status backgrounds that fall desperately in love. In “If I Forget You” Thomas Christopher Greene gives us the story of a working class Jewish boy who wins an athletic scholarship into a private college. He enters a world that he has never known before, the isolated, pretentious domain of inherited wealth. And, everyone there knows that this kid is not one of them. However, it turns out that he has the soul of a poet. He gives up baseball to focus on writing. Next he becomes the darling of the English Department. He also falls in love with a College Board member’s daughter, a child of extreme privilege. To his surprise his love is reciprocated. Of course, the young couple was doomed from the start. They are forced to separate after a very nasty incident with her father. She ends up following her parents’ wishes by marrying a man who will keep her name in the newspaper’s society pages while he marries another poet. Neither was in love with their spouse. Decades pass, both are miserable, then the star crossed lovers find each other again in middle aged adulthood.
This is a tender story written by a talented author who in his own life went from working in a staple factory to become a professor of writing and literature and later founded the Vermont College of Fine Arts. It is clear that Greene knew what he was writing about from a personal perceptive. Furthermore, his writing is suburb. As in his last novel “The Headmaster’s Wife” the reader enters academia with wonderfully descriptive scenes of New England’s beauty. Still, I struggled with this book’s review because for some reason I just didn’t care about the protagonists’ outcome. I never connected to their relationship. I can’t put my finger on it. The novel is well written with good character development, especially for the young man. The story is romantic without being saccharine as well as, having an intelligently believable plot. Nevertheless, for me, it does not hold the power of whatever it takes to write a novel about “everlasting love” which I believe was the author’s intent. But then again, I am a reader who didn’t think too much of “Love Story”. If you did, you might want to give this superior written novel a try.
Browse Publishers Publication Date: June 14 2016