That’s what internationally-published Filipina author Samantha Sotto scribbled on my copy of Before Ever After, her first novel, when I sought her autograph in December last year. As I have not read her novel then, her inscription left me intrigued. The book is actually my brother-in-law’s Christmas gift to me, per my request. I decided that it would make a nice first book to read in 2012 even if I had no idea what it’s about. Based on the title, one can safely surmise that it’s a romance novel. Or is it?
Tour operator Max Gallus takes the readers on an off-the-beaten-path journey to key cities in Europe and through centuries. He’s quite a mysterious character, not only because of his obsession with chickens and eggs, but also because of his long-kept secret. I don’t want to give too much away, but going back to the question: Is the novel a love story? I believe, in large part, it is. But romance is not the central theme of the book. It also revolves around the mind-boggling subject of immortality. With so many different stories within a story, the novel can be taken as part-romance, part-historical fiction and part-travelogue. After all, the author is a well-traveled mother of two who, I presume, is living her own fairy-tale life. Samantha Sotto is about my age but she’s pretty, smart, eloquent, fabulously fit (she goes to the gym regularly) and has the gift of imagination. I admire anyone with a colorful imagination because that’s something that I lack.
On a scale of 1 to 5 — with 5 being the highest — I give Before Ever After a rating of 3. It’s a worthwhile read and it made me real proud that a Filipina housewife has written the book, which is now her ticket to immortality.