Book review: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, by Andrew Sean Greer

**contain mild spoiler**

I think reading this book is a lot like going on a hike, slowly but steadily you are reaching the top. Slowly but steadily you grew to like the story and its character. I didn’t expect to gave this a four star, especially because I definitely didn’t even like the main character when I first read it. But, give this book a chance and your time, and you might have fallen for this book, just like I did.

Right off the bat, I really enjoy the characters. At first I wasn’t, I feel like the characters were very bland and too two-dimensional. But, thankfully I was patient enough to keep on reading and that’s when I was rewarded with the many dimensions of the characters. It was an entertaining thought to think that there could have been another dimension where we, and the people that we know of, exist but in a different time then we are today. Imagine if you can go back and forth between the life that you have today and the life that you have in another time and in another dimension. Imagine seeing the choices that you make differs from the life you lead right now. Imagine about the people that you know here and how different they are in the other time and dimension. The idea of that possibility seems to be very simple, and you can feel like the author was trying to portray it as simple as possible, and that what makes the story feels enjoyable, because it is just as simple as getting a light electrocution on your brain to brought you to the other dimension. Is that even possible? Because I might want to give it a try.

Don’t hate me for this, but I will try my best to not give out any spoiler, but it surprises me that I actually enjoyed the ending. I really didn’t see the ending coming. I thought that the ending would be something like going back to square one kind of ending, with Greta realising how life is such a beautiful thing that should not be thrown away. In a way, Great did manage to come into that conclusion, but the twist that happened was definitely not something I would have guessed; so for that, I want to congratulate the author.

The story itself is very enjoyable and it moves very fast. It is such a nice break after reading two slow paced book in a row before this. I almost forgot how a fast-paced story is more to my liking. Basically, if you only saw this book and are about to judge about whether or not you’re going to give this book a try based on the synopsis, you are about to miss something exciting. Although the basic premise is sort of similar to any other time-travelling story, believe me when I said that this is actually not a time-travelling story. Yes, Greta did travel from 1985 (from when she belongs) to 1941 and 1918, but it’s not time-travelling per se. It’s more like, Greta is travelling through different time and dimensions, because even in 1941 and 1918, there is another Greta Wells living with surrounded by almost the same people that she was surrounded with in 1985, with a little twist here and there. These other Gretas were also travelling through time and dimensions to the other years, taking the position of where the other Greta when the other one is travelling. Are you following me? Please don’t be confused. The book is not confusing, but I might be confusing.

The idea that Greta was able to travel through time and dimensions just because she did the electroconvulsive therapy is very entertaining. It made it seem possible and feasible for any other person to try and see if it’s actually possible. Is electroconvulsive therapy even a real thing? I mean, I could google about it, but I don’t feel like doing it now. What’s interesting is the things that Greta has to go through, and not only from the Greta in 1985, but also from the many other Gretas, the one in 1941 and 1918. You can relate so much with the struggle that they had to go through, the loss of a family member, the heartache of being cheated by your lover, the loss of your love to death and not being able to be by their side. The author manage to channel those emotions without having to overdoing with excessive displays of sadness and desperation; you can just feel the heartache without having to be thrown to a wall.

I’ve mentioned about how the author tries to be as simple as possible, right? I don’t know if that ever was his intention when he wrote this book, but his simplicity is definitely the reason why almost all of the events in the story were not predictable. The plot twists were nothing extravagant, but the effect it brings is what makes the element of surprise so impactful and striking for me. I like the fact that both Greta in 1985 and 1918 left their marks in the other lives and eventually be responsible for it in a way that I seriously did not thought possible. I didn’t even expect I was going to be happy with the ending.

If you are going through a hard time because a loss of a family member, try this book, you might find a friend in Greta. If you enjoy historical fiction and old time New York, also give this book a try. I don’t know what New York looks like because I’ve never been there, but I like how my imagination interpret old time New York thanks to this book. If you enjoy fantasy stories with many possible options and choices and the many probabilities of life, this might be the kind of book that should try.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

Author: Andrew Sean Greer

Goodreads link

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction

Favourite part

When 1918 Greta finally gets to meet Leo in 1985 and possibly it could be the beginning of a love that she was deprived of back in 1918. Also when 1985 Greta finally gets to grow old with Felix in 1918. It feels like something that was beautiful and I think that both Greta deserves that much.

Favourite character

Surprisingly I don’t have any specific favourite character in this book, because I like them all equally, apart from Dr Cerletti, he seems to be too mysterious.




4 thoughts on “Book review: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, by Andrew Sean Greer

  1. Aloysius Selwas Taborat says:

    I was patiently and thoroughly reading your review para by para. The more I read it through the more I expect to find a reference about parallel universe since IMHO what the character does (moving in between time and spatial dimension) is a kinda “parallel universe” thing.


    • dilchh says:

      I agree, Was. I think that instead of classifying this story to be a time-travelling story (as you can find in almost synopsis about this book), it’s actually more like a parallel universe kind of thing.


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