Saturday, June 2, 2018

Mary Doria Russell: Dreamers of the Day: A Novel

As a heavy reader, I'm not always sure what makes me run to this blog to post about books sometimes and to just read on other times. I'm sure it has something to do with being moved by a read, but there is more to it than that because I read some really enjoyable books.

After finishing Mary Doria Russell's book Dreamers of the Day: A Novel
I knew I had to write about it here. 

This author wrote one of my favorite books of all time The Sparrow
A book that has kept me awake many a night, both reading and reflecting. The depth and moving language and anthropology and philosophical discussion and character development and settings and before/after and revelations simply overwhelmed me. I read the book several times and it kept revealing and moving me. Listen, I don't gush about books much, 
but The Sparrow deserves all of it! So go and read it!  lol

I began researching some of Russell's other titles and chose to read a historical fiction book called Dreamers of the Day: A Novel and now I know I have to read everything else by her! And I can even partially say why!

She is a true lover of language, a student of culture, an anthropologist, a skeptic, a polemicist, a contemplative mirror, an appreciator of complexity, a pragmatist, a lover.

I'm going to give this book a little bit of thought and be back soon to say more. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Canticle for Leibowitz

I've got a good one for you.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. is a real treat for the grey matter. If you're looking for book to really sink your teeth into, this book might be next for you, ahead of all of those other books on the pile next to your bed.

Written in 1961, Canticle is shockingly current and provocative. Let me tell you a bit about the story. It is starts out set a few hundred years after our current day politicians did the unthinkable: unleashed an apocalypse of nuclear weapons that decimated most of the population of the plane, an event now known as The Conflict. 

The survivors in the bleakness of the 26th century were (will be?) pissed. At the scientists.

It was the scientists and thinkers who created the bombs that made the devastation possible at the time of the nuclear holocaust. So for hundreds of years, generations upon generations of people burned and destroyed every single book, paper, written document, and every stored record of knowledge. They call this The Simplification. Everyone is illiterate. Everything scientific is deliberately expunged except for those rare, undiscovered bits of flotsam paper. Many people are physically deformed from the high levels of radiation. Somewhere in Utah the monks who live at the monastery are devoted to honoring the memory of Isaac Edward Leibowitz, a Jewish scientist at Los Alamos who was martyred for his efforts to safeguard scientific knowledge in the aftermath of the conflict. They collect and transcribe the “Leibowitz Memorabilia,” including shopping lists, technical documents, and circuit diagrams that they cannot even begin to understand.

The monks secret away the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz for centuries, occasionally attempting to fill in the blanks on some missing words or phrases, studying the words and phrases, often memorizing texts in case there is another burning of paper. All of the protected pages are kept in total secrecy as all knowledge is suspect.

Although this Dark Ages replica time period is bleak and...well, dark, the continuation of the Catholic church is interesting. The church is fairly barbaric and, somehow, funny. Always there are people attempting to do the right thing for the right reasons and discovering that religious dogma and the institution of the church will always find ways to undermine one's humanity. Humans are a weak species. Many people are born with unusual deformities and these deformities become quite normal to see among the sparsely-populated towns and villages.

As the centuries pass and knowledge is slowly being rediscovered, we observe three distinct periods of time in Canticle, time periods that might be akin to Medieval times, a Renaissance time, and a Scientific time. Time periods where the human race progresses through rediscovery of technology and knowledge so very deliberately destroyed in centuries prior. Centuries where the darkness of ignorance slowly dies to the light of knowledge.

About eighteen centuries pass in the book! Each new epoch of time brings about greater and greater scientific discoveries by mankind and new challenges to the Abbey of St. Leibowicz that seeks to protect the knowledge that is archived there in the Utah cloister. The development of political climate, the evolution of Catholicism, and the development of technology plays an active character in this novel and definitely kept me turning the pages. Superstition and ignorance is generally celebrated during times of fear and anger while technology begins to appear during times of plenty.

Again, in the final epoch mentioned in the book, the human race is again on the edge of nuclear Armageddon. It is the year 3781 and civilization has not only recovered but has developed beyond the level it was at in the mid-twentieth century. Nation-states once again have nuclear arsenals. Space travel between earth and distant colonies has become common.

A war is threatening. Will we have learned from our past? Can we humans avoid repeating our appalling and flagrant mistakes of the past? Only the bicephalic woman with the lolling tomato-like second head knows as The Tomater Woman knows for sure.


There were times I literally laughed out loud because this book is surprisingly funny and times I had to shake my head at the ridiculous rules and human foibles of both the church and of the people in power. I find it amazing that a book written in 1961 could be so very modern, thought-provoking, humorous, and fresh. I've not traditionally been a scifi reader, though I have devoured several excellent scifi books within the last year or so. 

This book? This book I recommend. You might lose your interest a bit in the beginning, but stick with it.
I give it an honorable eight stars.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Are you into Sci fi?
I'm just now getting in to it as an older adult. My husband turned me on to a few titles within the past 25 years but lately I've been finding my own titles.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is my newest find and I'm loving it.

What we seem to have here is a book that is populated by many different species interacting. But it's not the species that are interesting. It's the interactions.

I'm only about a third of the way into the story, though I can see a major journey coming up for a crew of eight? sentient beings on a ship called the Wayfarer. Some background has been setting me up to appreciate the normalcy of these various races working together, yet I find myself wanting to know more more more about how things got to be the way they are; from the few summaries I have read about this book, I know I'm going to get my wish. Seems the journey they are embarking on will fill my need for character development. So far it feels a bit like Firefly...  🙂

SO looking forward to reading more!
Be back soon with more.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Color of Our Sky

Who knows what makes us pick up one book over another. Is it the cover? The reviews? The title? Even while I am searching for a book I find myself wondering just what it is that grabs me or collects me or whispers to me. I know that there is an elusive something, a thing that I look for...vulnerability? Delicacy? Strength? Bravery? Humanity? Some combination of all of none of these?

In this case I must own that I was searching my eReader shop for cheap books. This one cost me $1.99.

The Color of Our Sky by AmitaTrasi.
I am a lover of all things Hindustani, I am in love with India in all of it's facets, but that's just a part of what attracted me to this story. It is a story of two friends from very different places in life. The combination of lyricism and starkness, of boldness and sacrifice, of innocence and innocence lost, of rustic India and modern America, I have followed the back and forth motion like a heartbeat.

The reader will learn more about the caste system in India and about the roles that women play. How much of these roles are choice and how many of the journeys are unavoidable. How significant is the need for learning to read to these girls? How can that ability change a life? Who can guess at the strengths and weaknesses of the adults, parents, caregivers who are in the position to care for us as children? At what point must the children recognize their own powerlessness, even at moments where they seem to make a choice? Is there redemption?

Such an interesting, rich, pregnant moment in time...

As for the author of this book, Amitra Trasi, this is her first novel and I, for one, will be waiting for the next.

I am at just about the half way point and I have been shocked and surprised and moved in so many ways; I have discovered that I am a poor predictor of story for I have been completely wrong as most of my early guesses. I am savoring as much as far I am spellbound...

I'll be back soon.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Georgiana Darcy's Diary by Anna Elliott and Laura Masselos

I didn't know it, but it looks like we have Anna Elliott to thank for bringing the Darcys and the Bennetts back to the stacks. I'm so out of it because I had no idea about this series of books and the first volume was published in 2014. Elliott has three volumes of P&P Lovers' books out there that take us back to 1814 Pemberley...exactly where we want to be. 

Big sister-in-law and new BFF Elizabeth is there. Our darling and lovable older brother Fitzwilliam is there and he is happy! Our beloved cousin and guardian Colonel Edward Fitzwilliam is there. We're beginning to appreciate Carolyn Bingley a bit, enough to wish a happy ending for her. Even our cousin Miss Anne DeBourgh is growing on us. It's good. It's right where we want to be.

Though I'm still reading the novel I know one thing: Anne Elliott loves Pride and Prejudice as much as I do. She knows the characters as well as I do. She's imagined Pemberley as often as I have. And Anne Elliott has taken these beloved characters and has grown them, not as Jane Austin might have done, but as a very good fan fiction writer might do. And we can enjoy that for what it is. Who wouldn't appreciate the moment when Elizabeth Darcy offers to take Lady Catherine DuBourgh to another part of the house to talk about putting shelves into an errant closet?

I don't know if non-Austin-Lovers would appreciate the many beloved features of the book, the repurposed phraseology, the familiar set ups, or even the continuation of sweet dialogue. Maybe the book would be a bit below-standard. Probably some readers might be unimpressed with the journal entries of Georgianna Anna Darcy but I enjoyed getting to know her better. I can honestly not judge in the way of a non-Austinite because I have swallowed P&P whole and I have savored it for many years. 

If you are an Austin Lover, you will likely enjoy this book for its easy read, it's feeling of being home. You will enjoy the surprise of Carolyn Bingley's story line, maybe even enough to forgive her rudeness and condescension to Elizabeth Bennett in the original. If you loved Austin you will probably forgive the few out-of-time anachronisms. And if you love Austin you will probably agree with my rating of seven stars, taking away three stars simply because that's about as high as fan fic can rate.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Just FYI, I couldn't and didn't read all of Poldark. Too much of a yawner. 
My friend loved it so much but I simply could not read another word. 
Maybe I'll pick it up again at some later date.

I don't know how it is that I have never read Jane Eyre before. It seems like one of those books that I would have devoured in my youth, yet I did not. This 500-page book caught me and held me, though the language was heavy and dense and Gothic. I can honestly say that it took me about two weeks to read the entire book...and that's saying something. Some of the language was incredibly ponderous; I'll bet I looked up 100 words that I did not know!

So what kept me reading if it was such a challenge?
It was Jane!

What a surprising character for the time period. At a time when female protagonists were fainting all over the place, Jane Eyre never so much as blanches at the many, many challenges that her sparse life presents to her. As a reader of many a Gothic novel, I found her rebellion as a child inspired and unexpected and surprisingly modern. In the dark and cold of her childhood in the orphanage of your nightmares, our Jane manages to actually develop and grow a sense of self that surprised me, Dear Reader. (I'll be referring to you, the reader, several times in this blog post because Jane frequently urges you, Dear Reader, to understand her points of view and choices.)

In the earliest chapters Jane is raised by an unloving and harsh aunt who has no affection or time for this small wisp of a girl. Jane is forever being misunderstood, blamed, and punished in this family of bullying and selfish cousins. Jane's aunt continually refers to Jane in such undeserved terms as deceitful and untrustworthy. Our hearts break as, again and again, in her efforts to win her aunt, little Jane is brushed aside or punished or even tortured in a scary, death-haunted room. When circumstances change and Jane is passed along to a boarding school/orphanage our hopes, Dear Reader, are high that someone will claim Jane and give her the love and affection that she is so desperate for.

Alas that charity orphanage offers an indifferent set of authority figures and a harsh reality for this young heroine. Jane and the other girls are subject to such nightmarish circumstances that I found myself completely hating England for about a week and mocking England for its false reputation of being cultured. Here Jane endures painful losses and continued deprivation.

Finally a welcome change when Jane chooses to leave the school and to seek a position as a governess for a child at Thornfield Hall. She is hired by a household with a child named Adèle Varens, a young French girl. Jane finds a home, a welcoming group of people, and a meaningful purpose for her life for the very first time. We are delighted as she learns better and better ways to interact with Adèle. Jane learns about herself and asserts her own sense of identity under this roof. I'm not at all sure why this section of the book moved me so much, but it did. I'm sure it had something to do with her resilience and her hope.

It is at Thornfield Hall that Jane meets Mr. Rochester for he is the guardian of Adèle. Jane seeks to understand the confusing social life of Mr. Rochester as well as the many events in the house that seem to be strange, mysterious, and secretive. But none of the mysteries of the house can stop her from maturing and falling in love with the enigmatic and unusual Mr. Rochester.

I won't report anymore on the story line, only to say that it worth the slogging. The purity of Jane's voice and her search for identity,  usefulness, and maybe integrity are quite refreshing and engaging. Because of the difficult language and writing style I'm sure the read is well wasted on most high school students who are required to read it.

It was news to me that a movie has recently been made based on the book. Can it hold up? Can Jane come across as likable and engaging when we don't read her autobiographical musings ourselves? How will we feel about the other characters? I have no idea. As for the book, I give it a strong eight stars.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 (The Poldark Saga)

Aidan Turner notwithstanding, I've never read the book.

Somewhere on Netflix or Amazon Prime I stumbled onto the Poldark series. I was caught by the look of Aidan Turner but kept by the surprisingly engaging, unexpectedly beautiful, and continuously intriguing story. 

Written by Winston Graham in the 1940s and 1950s, the first book of Poldark series, entitled Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 (The Poldark Saga), has the flavor and feel of Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, or Elizabeth Gaskell. Set in the 1780s and 1790s, the series follows war-weary Ross Poldark as he returns from fighting in the Colonies, a war that the English lost. What interesting reversal of paradigm, reading an English novel set in that miserable time period. Wars were being lost, land was losing value, the mines in the area of Cornwall were not producing, food and living was extremely costly, and people were living scrub existences. What an odd time to set a romance novel/drama.

Yet, Ross Poldark does return to his family's land, finding decrepitude and gin-swilling servants, and begins to rebuild and renew his life. Not only does Ross deal with his own physical struggles and the struggles of managing the estate, he immediately discovers that the woman he has loved for these many years is set to marry his cousin.

And now we are set for the first book.

Aidan Turner
I am nearing the middle of the first book and I've discovered that the book is worthy of blogging about. For not only is Ross Poldark a worthy character, he and his fellow characters are all drawn so humanly, so heart warmingly, I am undone. And I am undone completely without the need to imagine Ross Poldark as played by Aidan Turner...and that is saying something. 

Now that I'm half way in, I am finding the writing engaging as hell and if Cornwall is even half as beautiful as Winston Graham writes it, I want to see it. For Cornwall itself is a character in this book. Cornwall's environs and its peoples of the 1780s are sharply and finely drawn; in their misery and celebration, they are by turn hilarious, petty, unworthy, worthy, filthy, lice-ridden, pompous, loyal, disloyal, unlearned, noble... Normal and regular folk.

It remains to be seen if I will read beyond this first book into the series. So far I have highlighted several passages that either use language that has moved me or has cracked me up. I'll let you know more when I've finished the book. Back in a day or two...

Also, now I know where Penzance is.  LOL

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Room by Emma Donohue

I had a little time last night so I started reading Room by Emma Donohue (author of a recent book I read I Wonder); the next thing I knew it was 5am and the sun was coming up. Little did I know I had picked up a book that has become a phenomenon. It was made into a movie in 2015.

Undoubtedly one of the most harrowing stories I've read in awhile, Room is a fictionalized story based on several notorious accounts of people taking young girls prisoner and keeping them locked up for many years, raping and abusing them, siring children with them, and keeping their horrific secrets, sometimes for decades.

Room is given yet another layer of distress by being told from the voice of Jack the five-year-old son of the kidnapped woman, born into the horrific man-made prison and raised in the enclosed space, never knowing anything at all about outdoors. Not knowing that anything at all exists outside of the room, their entire world. From Jack's perspective his life is lovely, secure, idyllic, and spent entirely with his beloved Ma while from his mother's perspective she is living in torture, neglect, rape, victimization, and abuse.

Jack's mother cycles through extreme depression and remarkably resiliency and exceptionally creative parenting over the years of her captivity. One cannot help but be in awe of her fortitude and fierce love and protection for her son. While Jack lives day to day to day within the small world of Room. Jack is a highly inquisitive little boy and his mother struggles with being honest about the world at large and with the reality that he may never know or see the world beyond Room. She is forced to choose what she will keep from him; he comes to believe that all of the things he sees on TV are pretend and not real, including other people, weather, nature, even the planet. 

Jack's ever-growing curiosities bring confusion to him as he struggles to understand the facts as Ma has presented them and all new information she gives him in his natural questioning and energy. He is such a beloved little boy; every parent can relate to his guileless inquisitiveness. He is lovable, well-meaning... protected from the horrific reality of their circumstances. In Room, Jack and his mother are barely individual. At one point he muses "Maybe I’m a human," he thinks, "but I’m a me-and-Ma as well." The psychological damage to both Jack and his mother is an ever-growing sea of inevitability... 

I hate to give away too much of the plot but I must relate that a certain point the two are released from their captivity. What follows is a two-fold path of recovery from the harrowing abuse and imprisonment experience and an abrupt expulsion from a sanctuary or haven at the same time. One must almost refer to the dual story lines as masterful. 

While I didn't understand the lack of compassion in family, nor did I understand some of Jack's mother's major choices in the life after Room, 
I did appreciate the continual discovery and confusion and dissonance experienced by Jack in Outside. 

It's not every day that a book moves me, disturbs me, disquiets me this much. I found myself doing several hours of research and reading after completing the book...leaving me even more sore and bruised. I honestly can't decide if I will read Elizabeth Smart's memoir My Story...

For the innovative, non-gimmicky use of the five-year old's voice, for the moving telling of two points of view in one terrifying story, for keeping my heart in my throat through the night, I give this book ten stars, minus three because I wanted to know so much more about Jack's mother and so much less about Jack's grandparents. That's seven stars from me.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Vincent Czyz's The Christos Mosaic


Vincent Czyz, author of this book, has written three books that I know of and from the reviews of his other books his writing has been well-received. I, however, am not in love with this book. I'm willing to own my own boredom.

In a world where so much is being written and revealed to the general population about church history, this book seems a bit underwhelming to me. The revelatory content could have been drawn more fully while also being repeated far less. It was as though the author didn't think the reader could follow. It was repetitive. Said again and again. Repeated ad nauseum. Suggested that the reader needed to read revelations again. 
And again.

Allow me a moment to offer quick reminder about the premise of  The Christos Mosaic: Drew, an American, is involved in the recovery of a newly discovered Dead Sea Scroll. Not surprisingly the scroll contains source and historical information that overturns everything that the Christian church puts forth as church doctrine and upon which that church has built its stories upon which the church rests. The church is seeking to keep the scroll from becoming public. Drew, a man with deeply-held Christian beliefs again and again and again and again and again in the book has to reconsider information about the beloved institution of his faith that he thought was fact. 

I won't tell you what the scroll reveals but I will tell you that the story and its intrigue could have been better. I found it tedious. Someone new to reading about early church history might truly enjoy the wealth of research material to follow but I found much of it redundant to materials I have read in the past. Therefore I must conclude that it is the writing that is at fault in this read.


While I didn't love the book I did love its setting, mostly in Instabul. At the moment I am watching some Turkish dramas available on Netflix and I have enjoyed learning about the area and the history. I find it amazing that we here in The West never really learn about or appreciate the significance of Turkey and that entire Black Sea area. It is such a crossroads of culture. In its time Istanbul and the Muslims have attained vast power and vast riches. But we seldom learn about this part of the globe and its people without negative connotations. 

I give this book three stars for one really good supporting character.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Christos Mosaic

This is one of those books that seems like I'd be bound to read sooner or later: The Christos Mosaic by Vincent Czyz. I hadn't heard about the book until about a week or two ago, though it has been out for about five months. I have also never heard of the author Vincent Czyz.

I've read about half of the book at this point and I'm slightly underwhelmed. I have to prod myself to read more, hoping that the intrigue builds or someone dies or something happens to keep my interest. The Christos Mosaic, at this point feels very derivative, and not in a good way. 

One of my favorite reads ever was The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown and if you haven't read The DaVinci Code but rather watched the lame movie, then RUN, no not walk, out to buy yourself a copy at the nearest yard sale. That book was AMAZING. The DaVinci Code offered high quality intrigue from page one.

The Christos Mosaic has been compared to The DaVinci Code, though I'm not at all sure why, except for the concept. Secret knowledge, esoteric documents and wisdom, churchy conspiracy thugs, secret groups and all seems familiar. I do hope that there is more offered by Vincent because at this point I'm just not intrigued.

How to summarize...

I know you have some familiarity with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Well, our hero in this book Drew has somehow become embroiled in a series of hijinx as he inherits a newly-discovered scroll that is being sought after by treasure hunters of antiquities, unethical scholars, and unscrupulous buddies. As Drew races to understand the Christinity-changing secrets that the scroll reveals, he and his gang of Turkish partners-in-crime are being pursued by nefarious agents who are trying to prevent the information from the scroll being revealed and who have killed and are willing to kill again to keep the information in the scrolls secret. The scramble takes the gang across Egypt and Turkey as they seek information and trustworthy partners.

While this all sounds pretty exciting I just find myself kind of bored. Perhaps I am not moved by poor Drew's crisis of faith as he begins to piece together what he is learning from and about the scrolls and the early Christian church because while it is obvious that our Hero of a Thousand Faces is on a journey, most of it is of the intellectual variety and, I fear, kind of pathetic. Perhaps the revelations simply don't surprise me. Perhaps I'm spoiled by Dan Brown's far better writing. And perhaps my overall antipathy toward Drew and his merry gang of fellows plays a part in my lukewarm following of this book.

But I'm going to continue reading with the hope that things will improve. One thing I do seriously enjoy is the accompanying research that I get to do as I read, so I'm learning about some things right along with Drew.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Andrew Sean Greer's The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

It took me several days to read through
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer. Partially because I was reading slower, partially because I was savoring it. Now this is a book with some surprising time travel, so allow me to set the stage:

The book starts out with our first and our real Greta Wells living in 1985. In 1985, Greta's beloved twin brother Felix dies of complications from AIDS. Greta is devastated. This major loss is then complicated by the break up with her long-time partner Nathan. Greta Wells becomes severely depressed and chooses a fairly radical psychiatric treatment to alleviate her debilitating depression. The treatment, though, has unexpected and bizarre effects when Greta finds herself whisked to previous lives she might have had if she'd been born in a different era. It might be enough to know that those Gretas are also submitting to some form of ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, shock treatments, in those lives as well...

During the months of her treatment Greta cycles between her own time in 1985, another alternate life in 1918, where she is having an affair with Nathan and where her brother Felix is alive and well, though struggling with his identity, and a life in 1941 where Greta is married to Nathan and mother to their son. Separated by odd time and interesting changes in social mores, Greta's three lives populated with the same people, albeit achingly different relationships. In each time period Greta finds herself longing for those people she has lost in 1985, though the prices of those realities might be too high to bear.

Who hasn't wondered the what ifs of life? What if I hadn't lost that person in my life? What if that relationship had continued? What if I had the power to know the future? How does my life affect those around me? Can I be happier with other choices? What would I give up to have back those whom I have lost? What could life be like if I had what I thought I wanted?

Have you ever wondered what life was like generations ago? Greta gets to walk through her own apartment, on her own street, through her beloved neighborhood in New York City in three different eras. Enjoying the prosaic events from one life: walking down the street, dressing, preparing a meal, hearing the news, responding to community events. Moving with Greta through 1917 and 1941 was a delight because Andrew Sean Greer so obviously delighted in his research. He so obviously enjoyed creating Greta's home and neighborhood of the past and for that I thank him. What a surprising thing to say, hey? But the flotsam of one life can be simply magical when seen through the eyes of someone from another time.

I didn't expect this book and I think I can highly recommend it...

And now for my favorite part of any review:  I have two favorite excerpts from The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, though Greer's writing is quite lovely to read I could have included dozens of pieces. See if you don't love these pieces as much as I do:

 Our heart is so elastic that it can contract to a pinpoint, allowing our hours of work and tedium, but expand almost infinitely - filling us like a balloon - for the single hour we wait for a lover to awaken.


It's easy to say something is all in your head. It's like saying sunset is all in your eyes.

 One last thought about a secondary character, Greta's Aunt Ruth. This character provides another complex relationship for Greta to transit, yet Aunt Ruth's presence is a wonderful touchstone for the reader. In each of her lives, Aunt Ruth is Greta's beloved yardstick of reality. Aunt Ruth offers Greta both continuity and comparison. Her flaky, consistent, even bohemian lifestyle couches Greta in each life and helps her to process many of life's lessons...for the most part. I had a wonderful seasoned actress in mind any time Aunt Ruth appeared on the page and she made me smile, often.

So enjoy the luscious prose.
I give this surprising read a nice rating of six stars.

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.