The Mobile Library are still reading and reviewing throughout the Summer!!
Su R, a member of the group had read The Impossible Lives of Greta Mills by Andrew Sean Greer. She loved it so much she wanted the rest of the group to read it. Andrew Sean Greer is an American novelist and short story writer.
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, Greer's fifth book and fourth novel, further develops the themes of love and time by presenting his main character with three versions of her life. Each morning, she awakens to the same room, the same city, the same aunt and brother and lover. The only change: the year in which they all are living: 1918, 1941 and 1985. Threads of war and disease connect the worlds, and Greta watches characters sometimes unable to live their lives, sometimes bound to repeat them. With sacrifices to be made in every world, which one would she choose?
Below are two wonderful reviews from the group.
Reviewer: Margaret H
A young woman, paralysed with grief on the loss of her beloved brother to Aids and her partner to another woman, agrees to shock theory to lift her depression. This leads her to live alternative lives in different time frames, but with the same people who do not behave the same way as they do in her real life.
An intriguing and beautifully written beginning, to this book. I could also identify with Patchin Place in New York as I saw a place very like it when I went there. He manages to describe real heartbreak, in fact, I felt the book was about heartbreak, but instead of getting over it she managed to do what we all want when something terrible happens, and make it not happen in the first place.
It's also about grief, the depths of which seem to be the flip side of how much you have loved in the first place. The book does not really have a great deal of narrative tension but flows with beautifully observed language, with such understanding of love, pain and despair. I have just finished The Shining Girls so I was quite into alternative time travel as well! I liked his descriptions of New York in all three time-frames very evocative. Thanks Su for recommending this book, it is very clever and thoughtful.
Reviewer: Kate McT
This is a story about loss, unbearable loss and complicated grief. Greta loses her beloved brother Felix to AIDS, her lover Nathan to another woman; it sounds to me like she lost her mind.
The book evoked a feeling of overwhelming sadness. When real life becomes too difficult, many of us wish to escape it, and often do; by going to a place within because it is just too awful here. Greta saw a Dr Cerletti who suggested an unusual procedure, ECT. Who knows what happens to a person’s mind at such a time, where does it go? Some minds are lost forever. I found this book very interesting and at times comforting to read. Greta found relief in another era.
I really liked Aunt Ruth, everyone needs an Aunt Ruth in their life. Champagne in teacups and fun, I think I would have chosen to stay with Aunt Ruth. “I wish it not to have happened”. This book made me cry. I identified strongly with Greta and her need to travel. When I myself, experienced profound loss I just needed to get away, anywhere but here. I found my loss came with me like a huge dark rain cloud and hung over my head for a very long time, it still rains down on me from time to time.
“Is it better to hear of death or witness it? For I had suffered both and could not tell you.” So true, if I could travel in time, am not sure I would. After all, the only certain thing in life is death. I myself still look for a place in this life to make things better, I haven’t found it yet. We are all just stories in the end, a series of memories and photographs; until the person remembering no longer exists. True sadness is impossible to capture and it is as individual as our DNA, it is deep seated and remains in our heads; hearts and minds forever.