Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

Did I discover this author?!
This book is The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer. Have you heard of Greer? I miiight be the first to read him...therefore I have discovered him. *wink*

So the story is this.
Greta Wells, in 1985, has experienced two devastating losses and is in a long-term depression. In a desperate attempt to improve her mood Greta begins undergoing ECT, Electroconvulsive Therapy, shock therapy. 

Kind of a grim beginning, but wait. This is a time travel novel. In a twist of fate, Greta Wells in 1918 and Greta Wells in 1941 are also beginning EST, called Electroshock therapy in 1941, and let the time travel begin. Each time these multiple Gretas undergo treatment they move to another Greta timeline.

Greta from 1985, after her first treatment, wakes up in 1918, in the surprising life of Greta Wells in 1918. The difference in this Jazz Age Greta time line is that 1918 Greta is married to the boyfriend who just left 1985 Greta and Greta's twin brother Felix who just died in 1985 from AIDS is married to a woman in 1918. Of course the differences don't stop there but I don't want to give away too many points of the storyline. Let's not forget the crinolined Greta in 1941. SUCH a fun set of revelations as this 1941 Greta enjoys the pre-Feminist days of 1945 women... Discovering the new lives is quite delightful and interesting and, yes, kind of romantic.

Also present in these parallel lives is Greta's delightful and beloved Aunt Ruth as well as key secondary characters. I'm making it sound like all of her discoveries from her other lives are wonderful, but of course that would not be realistic. Be prepared for struggling and processing.

As Greta moves through a series of ECT treatments over several months she finds herself shuffling through 1918, 1941, and 1985. An interesting part of the move is that the Greta from each of those lives has moved to her 1985 self like a place keeper.

Still with me? OK.

I am over half way through this book and I find myself thinking that the writing is wonderful. Greer truly has a beautiful, sensory way with words. In preparation for this blog post this morning I read ONE review on Amazon by lynn-sb and lynn-sb's review absolutely praises Andrew Sean Greer's ability to write from the perspective as a woman in all of these relationships, including discovering that she is a parent in 1918 Greta's life. But I have to disagree with that reviewer's opinion.

While I have nothing but praises so far with this book, praises I tell you, I disagree that Greer is writing well as a woman. About half way through the first half of the book I realized that the Gretas weren't quite developed enough for me...not enough female. Female stuff is just...missing. (What do I mean by female stuff? I mean, Um, ...stuff.)

It's wonderful and well-written and I've already purchases another book by the guy...

Back with more after I finish the read.