The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells4stars



Which Year Will It Be This Session?

By Andrew Sean Greer
ECCO, $26.99, 290 pages

Ever get that feeling when starting a new book that there’s no pull – no character, no plot, no setting that sucks you in right off the bat? I don’t know if I experienced this sensation because I started reading Andrew Sean Greer’s The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells at 3:30 a.m. or because I had a hard time trying to figure out whom or what Greta is depressed over losing. Time will tell if there is, in fact, “pull,” as I call it, or if it’s just a bad idea to start a book that late in the day (or early in the morning, depending on how you look at time).

When I picked this book, I was intrigued by the story. Greta, the main character, starts electroconvulsive shock therapy as a way to overcome her depression. From that starting point, we see Greta in different time periods as the story progresses. After finishing this story, I think it was a combination of the 3:30 start time and trying to figure out where Greta transports to next that was the trouble. As she moves in and out of three time periods – 1918, 1941 and 1985 – she tries to figure out her role and the roles of those who matter most to her in each. We also meet her ex-husband, Nathan; Felix (not sure if there was one or two of them); her aunt Ruth; and Alan, her brother and Felix’s partner.

In the end, I felt no “pull.” However, as I was reading I felt glad that this was written as it was and not made more complicated – it’s an easy read when you need one. And an enjoyable read as well. In the end, remember that love can get you through anything in life.

Reviewed by Annie Hicks

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