Thursday, July 4, 2013
THE IMPOSSIBLE LIVES OF GRETA WELLS by Andrew Sean Greer
Who among us has not wondered how different our life might have been had we been born at another time? Imaginative writer Andrew Sean Greer explores that possibility in this time-traveling tale which transports the troubled Greta Wells between three very different periods of time. She will find the same characters she knows in her present life but very different Gretas.
While Greta is living in New York City in 1985 she is dealt two shattering blows. First, she is heartbroken by the AIDS death of her beloved twin brother, Felix, and her lover, Nathan, leaves her for another woman. Unable to cope with two such devastating losses she falls into serious depression and turns to electroconvulsive therapy to find relief. This begins an unexpected result - magical time travel following each of her sessions. She sleeps only to awaken in a very different life. Under the care of Dr. Cerletti she usually awakens to a new world every Thursday and Friday. The time spent in each of these worlds varied, sometimes a day, at other times a week. She was powerless to dictate the length of her stays.
When she awakens in 1941 Felix is alive and Nathan is her husband. In 1918 Nathan is away at war, Greta finds a handsome young lover, and Felix is alive although very much hiding his homosexuality. Quite obviously, no period is perfect, each has its challenges as well as its rewards. Perhaps most moving of all are the times involving Felix, as we’re reminded of the difficulties faced by gay men in years past.
For Greta each of these time periods proves to be just as full of pitfalls as the one she actually inhabits. It is for her to choose which one will be her own.
Andrew Sean Greer (The Confessions of Max Tivoli) has once again taken us on a magical journey - enjoy!
- Gail Cooke