The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells: A Novel

Paperback | April 15, 2014

byAndrew Sean Greer

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From the critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Confessions of Max Tivoli comes The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, a rapturously romantic story of a woman who finds herself transported to the “other lives” she might have lived.

After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well—though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband…but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress.

In this spellbinding novel by Andrew Sean Greer, each reality has its own losses, its own rewards; each extracts a different price. Which life will she choose as she wrestles with the unpredictability of love and the consequences of even her most carefully considered choices?

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From the Publisher

From the critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Confessions of Max Tivoli comes The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, a rapturously romantic story of a woman who finds herself transported to the “other lives” she might have lived.After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time l...

From the Jacket

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 the Greta of 1985 finds herself transported to remarkably similar lives in different eras—as a...

Andrew Sean Greer is the bestselling author ofThe Story of a MarriageandThe Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was aTodaybook club selection and received a California Book Award. He lives in San Francisco.

other books by Andrew Sean Greer

The Confessions of Max Tivoli: A Novel
The Confessions of Max Tivoli: A Novel

Paperback|Feb 1 2005

$19.50

The Story of a Marriage: A Novel
The Story of a Marriage: A Novel

Kobo ebook|Apr 29 2008

$10.99

The Path of Minor Planets: A Novel
The Path of Minor Planets: A Novel

Kobo ebook|Apr 1 2007

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see all books by Andrew Sean Greer
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.68 inPublished:April 15, 2014Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062213792

ISBN - 13:9780062213792

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Customer Reviews of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful story of choices Greta is in dispair after the death of her brother and when her relationship also breaks up she decided to seek help. She embarks on a series of shock treatments that sends her cycling through two other lives in the past. And while she finds things very different in each life, she also find that she can make different decisions based on her knowledge of her future life. What she doesn't count on is the other Gretas pushing her to make a choice that will change all of them. I loved this book and haven't stopped finding new meanings in its complicated story that enrich my own perception of time and my life choices.
Date published: 2015-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from PLAUSIBLE TIME TRAVEL As we meet Greta she has just suffered two life altering losses … her long time lover has left her for another woman and her twin brother has died. Needless to say Greta feels like her life is falling apart and quite possibly taking her sanity along. At the suggestion of her doctor she decides on a mild form of electro-shock therapy. The therapy comes with a few unexpected side effects. At the completion of each treatment she finds herself transported to 1918, 1941 and then back to the present. In each incarnation she finds a reality slightly different from her own. On one she is happily married to her now ex-lover and her brother is alive and well. In another her lover is off at war, her brother is alive but her beloved aunt is dead and then back to the present. Each life comes at a cost, and as Greta tries to manipulate each incarnation to her idea of her own perfect world, her alter egos in the other years are doing the same. Can Greta manipulate her own fate and stay in the era she prefers? Time travel is always a tricky situation because the author has to make it plausible. Mr. Greer succeeds. Not only that, but he brings each period to life through accurate portrayal of timely events and their impact on Greta. I have heard this book favorably compared to Audrey Neffinger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. It deserves the comparison as they are both excellent books, but other than the fact that they both deal with time travel impacting their character’s lives they are two completely different stories. Mr. Greer succeeded in making Greta’s story both plausible and enjoyable. Kudos!
Date published: 2013-08-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells Who would you be if you lived in a different time? Maybe you do? Maybe, even as we share this 21st Century electronic communication together, another version of you sips tea out of china cups in the early 1900s, or patches up the war wounded in the turbulent 1940s. (Cue Twilight Zone theme music here.) As the title suggests, this book has a Twilight Zone kind of feel. The various intersecting lives of Greta Wells seem impossible. Perhaps that is what makes them so intriguing: the possibilities of the impossible. The main character, Greta Wells, meets herself in different times and learns about herself thanks to the different perspectives. To carry this off, Andrew Sean Greer, crafts an intricate plot. If it had not been deftly handled, it would have been confusing and convoluted, but Greer does it right, To carry this off, he creates each character not once but three times according to the culture of their time. If this had not been deftly handled, the characters would have been one-sided and false, but Greer does it right. He shades his characters appropriately for the time in which they live. This is a "I don't want to put this down until I see how it comes out" book. Greer provides an ending you don't think you want, but which you realize is just right.
Date published: 2013-08-07

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Editorial Reviews

“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.”