Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells
by Andrew Sean Greer

Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction

Synopsis: 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 ears.

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.
From the book jacket

Review:  I saw this book several times in the library before I actually checked it out.  It sounded intriguing to me but yet I was hesitant because I tried to read another book by the author that I just couldn't read.  Luckily I was right in picking up the book!  The story took me a while to get into but once I kept reading I really couldn't wait to see what was happening in the 3 time periods.  The same cast of characters are in all 3 time periods and was fascinating to see how similar most of them were.  I really enjoyed reading about the various people that she interacted with but I didn't like Greta as much as the other characters.  When Greta jumps into the 2 different time periods, she tries to do things that will make her happy, her 1985 self.  She doesn't seem to stop and think about what her 1918 or 1941 self would want.  I can understand that at first because she was struggling with depression and for her to see her brother again and her lover that she would do whatever she wanted to do.  But sometimes she took her meddling a little too far.   The author really tries to make you do a lot of thinking in this book so at times I just skimmed through the deep thoughts and questions so that I could keep going with the time traveling!  I was satisfied by the ending but it wasn't the ending I had thought would happen.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

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