Monday, December 9, 2013

The Impossible Lives Of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Greta Wells is a 30-something photographer whose life has come to a shuddering halt. It is Halloween night, 1985. Greta's twin brother Felix has just died of AIDS and his beloved partner Alan is now sick. To make matters worse, Nathan, her lover of ten years, has walked out on her. Only Greta's eccentric Aunt Ruth is the one stabilizing force in her life.

After falling into a debilitating depression, Greta undergoes electroshock therapy. Her doctor cautions she might experience certain feelings of detachment, but Greta is not prepared for what happens next. Over the course of twenty shock treatments, Greta travels back and forth in time.

It is Armistice Day, 1918, and Greta Michelson's husband Nathan has just returned home from the war. New York is in the grips of the Spanish Influenza and despite his shell-shocked condition, Nathan dives into his medical practice treating victims of the outbreak. Greta's brother Felix haunts the city's men's haberdasheries seeking furtive intimacy. Her eccentric Aunt Ruth is the one stabilizing force in her life.

 A few weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Greta Michelson is severely injured in a car accident, in which her Aunt Ruth, the one stabilizing force in her life, is killed. Her brother Felix, about to marry a senator's daughter, has been having an affair with Alan, the family attorney. And Greta's husband Nathan spends far too many evenings away from home.

 Three Gretas. Three lives. And one fascinating journey into the heart of grief, love and what it takes to mend a woman's broken soul. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is a hard book to describe but an easy one to dive into and enjoy. I did.

And you can reserve it here.

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