The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer is a time-travel novel and a boring one at that.
0 out of 10 stars. This was a truly boring novel. The author spent more time trying to describe the Patchin Place neighborhood of New York City than telling an interesting story. Unless you live in NYC and are thrilled by every meaningless novel written that takes place in NYC, this won’t be an interesting read.
Greta and Felix Wells are redheaded twins who live in an apartment building with their aunt in a quaint area of New York City called Patchin Place. Shortly after their thirty-first birthday, Felix dies of cancer and Greta goes into a deep depression. Her treatment results in being sent back in time to 1918 and then 1941. Nothing about Greta or Felix was particularly remarkable other than the love they had for each other which is common with siblings and even more strong with twins. The time periods were important because both were at a time of war, at the end of WWI and then at the beginning of WWII. That’s the entire story in a nutshell. I was bored.
The writing was awkward. The author is a man and men tend to think women are very different than we really are. The feelings he described were not what I would feel had my twin brother died. They were not what I would feel if someone was verbally attacking him (as happens in the novel) or how I would feel if no one understood the deep devastation of my loss. But I also would never ever go to this extreme to get over depression. Depression is temporary. What she did resulted in permanent brain damage. It’s kind of hard to believe that a person, even someone in a deep depression in 1985, would do that willingly. The author also gives Greta thoughts and words that are not very feminine at all. It doesn’t take that much effort to spend time with women and learn how they talk and especially how they talk together. After a while, women who have been friends for years tend to start to talk alike. They have shared speech patterns and begin to finish each other’s sentences, the same thing often said of twins. That was completely missing from this novel. The more I read, the less I believed.
0 out of 10 stars. I couldn’t finish the novel. I was bored. Most of the novels appearing on several of the bestseller lists are written by MFAs who write about NYC. That seems to be the formula to get a book deal. Unfortunately that means the good novels never make it to print. 🙁
Reviewed by Erin.