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The Impossible Lives of Greta Wellsby Andrew Sean Greer
When faced with tragedy, have you ever wished you could escape to another time — one that you imagine to be kinder, simpler somehow? What if you woke up one morning and FDR was president? Or Woodrow Wilson? In this moving book, we walk with Greta Wells as she learns to navigate three different years: 1918, 1941, and 1985. You may find yourself wondering, as I did, How might I be different if I were born in another era? Or, What is the essence of ME — the part that would never change?
Synopses & Reviews
From the critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Confessions of Max Tivoli comes The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, a rapturously romantic story of a woman who finds herself transported to the “other lives” she might have lived.
After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well — though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband… but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress.
In this spellbinding novel by Andrew Sean Greer, each reality has its own losses, its own rewards; each extracts a different price. Which life will she choose as she wrestles with the unpredictability of love and the consequences of even her most carefully considered choices?
“The premise of this novel isnt that a woman travels through time: its that ‘the impossible happens once to each of us.'…What this wonderful novel teaches us is how magic works.” John Irving
“Andrew Sean Greer is one of the most talented writers around, feeling and funny, with a genuinely fine prose style and a sensibility to match.” Michael Chabon
“Greer's imaginative treatment of love and relationships shines again in his third novel. VERDICT Fans of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife will delight in following the thought process of time traveling while maintaining a hold on a singular identity.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Andy Sean Greer writes with an intelligent joy that encompasses a truly kaleidoscopic vision, reminding me of the work of Peter Carey and David Mitchell. This novel is beautifully sewn together.” Colum McCann
“No one tells the secrets of the human heart more bravely or eloquently than Andrew Sean Greer. He has been called our Proust, our Nabokov, but with this novel he transcends all comparison. This is a genius-stroke of a book. Read it and weep.” Julie Orringer, bestselling author of The Invisible Bridge
“Andrew Sean Greers The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is a luminous inquiry into time itself, and Greta Wells, in her transit between three lives, is his most assured creation. What a lovely novel: stirring, inclusive, forgiving, and extraordinarily hopeful.” Jayne Anne Phillips
1985. After the death of her beloved twin brother, Felix, and the breakup with her longtime lover, Nathan, Greta Wells embarks on a radical psychiatric treatment to alleviate her suffocating depression. But the treatment has unexpected effects, and Greta finds herself transported to the lives she might have had if she'd been born in different eras.
During the course of her treatment, Greta cycles between her own time and alternate lives in 1918, where she is a bohemian adulteress, and 1941, which transforms her into a devoted mother and wife. Separated by time and social mores, Greta's three lives are remarkably similar, fraught with familiar tensions and difficult choices. Each reality has its own losses, its own rewards, and each extracts a different price. And the modern Greta learns that her alternate selves are unpredictable, driven by their own desires and needs.
As her final treatment looms, questions arise: What will happen once each Greta learns how to remain in one of the other worlds? Who will choose to stay in which life?
Magically atmospheric, achingly romantic, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells beautifully imagines "what if" and wondrously wrestles with the impossibility of what could be.
About the Author
Andrew Sean Greer is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was a Today book club selection and received a California Book Award. He lives in San Francisco.
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