ANDREW SEAN GREER / The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells
"What is the essential part of ourselves that would never change?”
With such acclaimed bestsellers as The Confessions of Max Tivoli and The Story of a Marriage, Andrew Sean Greer has explored bewitching questions of life and love with bold imagination, earning praise as a writer whose “considerable gifts as a storyteller ascend to the heights of masters like Marilynne Robinson and William Trevor” (New York Times). In his magical new novel, THE IMPOSSIBLE LIVES OF GRETA WELLS, Greer plays with shifting time and alternative realities to explore an ageless issue: Has there ever been a time and place where it was easy to be a woman? Greer’s singular approach places his heroine in three distinct moments of the twentieth century as she experiences parallel lives—at once different and the same.
It is 1985 and Greta Wells is a woman at a low point in her life: her twin brother is dead and her lover has left her. Undergoing electroconvulsive therapy, she wakes the next day in a different version of her life: first as a woman in 1918, then in 1941. Many details are the same—the same brother, aunt, and lover—but others have changed: she does or does not have a child, her brother is alive, she has a husband. Over three months, Greta cycles through these versions of her life, navigating each with its different problems and rewards. In the end, she must tie up the loose ends of these lives and, at last, decide which of these imperfect worlds to choose as her own.
Magically atmospheric, achingly romantic, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells beautifully imagines "what if" and wondrously wrestles with the impossibility of what could be.
“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 premise of this novel isn’t that a woman travels through time: it’s that ‘the impossible happens once to each of us’…What this wonderful novel teaches us is how magic works.” -- John Irving