Book of the Week: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells – Andrew Sean Greer

This is our first book with Greer. But he arrives with some impressive praise for his previous work. John Updike called Greer’s The Confessions of Max Tivoli “enchanting, in the perfumed, dandified style of disenchantment brought to grandeur by Proust and Nabokov”; The New York Times called The Story of a Marriage an “inspired, lyrical novel.”

This book has the sort of high concept set-up that in the wrong hands can easily go off the rails– but which in the hands of this writer becomes an imaginative and philosophical adventure along the lines of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

The plot? A depressed woman undergoes a radical treatment to help her cope with a romantic breakup and the death of her beloved brother. The result sends her to 1918 and 1941 to live alternative versions of her life. As the treatments progress Greta sees her life playing out against different social, political and romantic pressures. At the same time, the other versions of Greta also move through time and alternate version of themselves. Where will they ultimately land—and who will choose?

Advance reviews are great—and no surprise that comparisons to The Time Traveler’s Wife pop up. Reviews re already scheduled for the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post.

“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)

“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

The intricate promise at the heart of Andy Sean Greer’s new novel is that ‘no one has an ordinary life.’ We are stitched together in this ‘magic act’ of time, love and terror. The impossible happens, the joyful happens, and the unbearable happens also. How many lives can we actually live? Perhaps as many as we can properly imagine. 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

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells (9780062213785) By Andrew Sean Greer. $26.99 hardcover. 6/25/13 on sale.

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