The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


The year is 1985... for a while. Greta Wells is thoroughly miserable- her beloved twin brother has passed away, and her partner of ten years has left her. It isn't long before her psychiatrist realizes that none of the standard methods are helping Greta's crippling depression, and that more experimental treatments need to be tried. This is how Great Wells ends up as the subject of a revolutionary form of shock therapy. She's been warned that she may initially experience hallucinations as a side effect- but the results of her treatment are far more odd. After her first treatment, Greta wakes up in 1918. It's still her life, in the same place, surrounded by the same people, but it's happening in 1918, and the rules of the time apply: long dresses are worn, alcohol is hidden illegally, and there's a war going on. But the 1918 Greta is getting shock therapy, too- and it sends her to 1941.
Over the course of her treatments, Greta cycles between her three lives, confiding only in her eccentric aunt Ruth. Each life is her own- but with dramatic differences. In 1918 and 1941, her brother is still alive. But in 1941 alone, beloved aunt Ruth is dead. In 1918 and 1941, Greta is married to Nathan, the lover who left her in her own time. But in 1918 he's away at war and Greta has turned to adultery- and in 1941 he's a doting husband and father of her six-year-old child. All things considered, Greta handles her oddly cycling lives pretty well. But eventually the treatments will come to an end- and then where will Greta be?
This is an astounding, beautifully written novel that will have even the most skeptical reader believing fervently that "the impossible happens once to each of us."

— Lily

July 2013 Indie Next List


“This exquisitely rendered novel captures one character in three distinct and historically significant periods: the flu epidemic of 1918, the wartime world of 1945, and the full-blown AIDS terror of 1985. Greer manages to achieve the near impossible himself in making Greta believable in all three. She suffers and learns in each circumstance, though her hard-won accumulated knowledge is of little help in solving the essential riddle that is life. Stilll, hers is a grand and brave journey that will not soon be forgotten.”
— Marion Abbott, Mrs. Dalloway's, Berkeley, CA

Description


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?

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.

Praise For…


“Elegiac in tone, this tale of time travel, loss and comprimise is as precisely engineered as a Swiss watch. [Greer] manages the complexities of this temporal round robin with precision and panache…a generous novel…”
New York Times Book Review

“This novel is a guilty pleasure of sorts for anyone who has ever wondered, What if? We’re taught not to dwell on paths not taken, but this book weaves a tale about the magical possibility of what could have been.”
Real Simple

“…The magical conceit here is well earned and imagined rather than gimmicky, and Greer writes with an acute sensivity for the wonderment taht underpins the human experience.”
The Daily Beast

“…elegant and wistful…”
Time Out New York

“Greer is a deep thinker and a fine stylist…consider reading Greta Wells for sentences like these: ‘It is almost impossible to capture true sadness; it is a deep-sea creature that can never be brought into view.’”
USA Today

“…emotionally rich…Greer is an artful, elegant writer…The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is a deeply romantic book.”
— Miami Herald

“The premise of this novel isn’t that a woman travels through time: it’s 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 Greer’s 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

“Philosophically intriguing as well as gorgeously imagined and executed, this novel will catch fire with the same audience that propelled The Time Traveler’s Wife to the top of the bestseller list.”
— Booklist
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062213785
ISBN-10: 0062213784
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: June 25th, 2013
Pages: 304
Language: English
 

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