Book Review: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

Last year, a dear friend—and incredible YA author—Rebekah Crane, suggested I read, Many Lives, Many Masters by psychiatrist, Brian L. Weiss. The book details a young woman’s journey through hypnosis to rid herself of a long list of unexplained phobias. What is revealed during her sessions are details of lives lived over centuries, specifics only a well-versed historian would ever know. Furthermore, she is able to describe the death of each life, all of which correlate to a present phobia.

It was not suggested I read this because I love psychiatry or have a fascination with past lives. “The story,” Crane said, “is just captivating. The evidence for past lives is so strong, you can’t help but believe the possible.”

She was right. I couldn’t put it down. And in the end, I became a believer. It seemed impossible to not have lived other lives. Inevitably, Crane and I were discussing the possibility of writing a novel that centered around this premise. How fascinating would it be to have a protagonist who’s intimate with the details of lives lived centuries ago?

Last week, while perusing the shelves of my local library, I stumbled across the title, The Many Lives of Great Wells. Here, it seemed, was a novel that did just as Crane and I had contemplated. Taken the idea that one person lived several lives and put it into prose.

The story, written by Andrew Sean Greer, is about Greta Wells, a thirty-year-old woman who undergoes electroshock therapy to cope with the death of her twin and the break-up with her long-time lover. The year is 1985.

After her first session, she wakes in 1918. She is still Greta. She is still in her same apartment. And, she still has the same people in her life—her aunt, her lover, and to her surprise, her brother, who is alive in this year. When she undergoes a similar 1918-style procedure, she jumps to another year, 1941, where she must live as the mid-19th century Greta did. And so, she rotates with each procedure. From 1985, to 1918, to 1941, and back again. As she does, the other two Greta’s travel too, leaving no time without one.

What she discovers is how the actions of each Greta affect the lives of the others, how each life offers something the others lack, and how the time you’re born in may not be the time that’s right for you.

For me, the premise was mind blowing. However, it was the execution that had me turning pages late into the night when my eyes fought for sleep. Greer not only mastered the voice of a confused woman experiencing metamorphosis, but his prose often blurred into poetry. Too often, I’d have to stop and admire his ability to capture emotion so precisely and eloquently. More powerfully however, is his approach to transformation. He impeccably draws Greta’s changes out throughout the story, from page one to the very last, that it seems effortless. Her progress is entirely natural and real, that as a reader, you are right there with her, telling her whether she should stay in one time or travel to the next.

 

www.RoyalGorgeRegion.com

Check out this awesome new website about the Royal Gorge Region. I wrote a large amount of the copy, which details the region’s history and recreational, cultural, and paleontological opportunities. There’s so much to do in Fremont County, and now there’s a resource that helps navigate it all.

www.RoyalGorgeRegion.com

I’m blessed to have opportunities to write about Colorado. It takes my appreciation of home to the next level!

PS – The girl sitting above the canyon in the home page is not me. Though, she looks an awful lot like me. It gives me the chills every time I look at it!

 

The Healer is Published!

Thank you, Scarlet Leaf Review for publishing my short story, The Healer. I am so grateful!

The Healer

The wash room is covered in tile. The complete whiteness makes me dizzy, and I can’t tell where the ceiling meets the wall or the wall meets the floor. I wish there was some differentiation in color, but in this hospital, where the most desperate cases are sent, total disinfection is a must. White is not affected by bleach, but I am. My eyes water and my nose stings.

Read more…

The River

Combining my two loves…

guglielmi_the_riverO. Louis Guglielmi (1906-1956)
The River, 1942
Oil on Canvas
Location: The Art Institute of Chicago
Photo Credit: The Art Institute of Chicago

I wait on the edge and shield my eyes. My skin feels as though I have walked through rain. I find a tissue buried on the bottom of my purse. Cherry-red lipstick marks one side, and I’m careful not to press too hard when I wipe my face.

A small girl in a green jumpsuit hangs on her mother. “Why must it always come on the hottest day?”

Her mother speaks between long, drawn out breaths. “Because feeling as though something is pressing on your back while your feet are buried in the ground stops you from running off and making a scene.”

The woman standing to my left nods church-like and whispers, “Amen,” because that was a pretty good way to put it.

I try to grip the railing, but my hands slip and my vision flashes black. I’m convinced I won’t make it when a cloud of cool air drapes over me. I pull it tight around my shoulders, stand up straight, and peer into the water.

The ripples come first followed by a beast the size of a whale. I crane my neck to see its eyes. Before I do, it fans into long strips of celestial, denim, and baby blue. It no longer resembles an animal; just thousands of leaves floating on the sea.

The changes are subtle. My back straightens, my skin tightens, and my gray hairs turn chestnut brown. Some years, I feel my heart beat stronger, though I worry that might be in my head. Today, I see better, which is new.

The shades of blue swim on, leaving me the same age I was a year ago, and a year before that, and twenty years before that. It’s strange to think I look the same as I did the first time it came by.

Now, only a few of us come. Staying young had gotten old for most of the others.

The mother picks up her daughter, grinning.

“Can I stay home next year?” asks the girl. “It’s always too hot.”

“When you’re older,” her mother replies before nodding to me and carrying the child away.

New Novel Excerpt… Chicago World’s Fair 1893

When Mr. Ferris’s Giant Wheel starts to become its own character…

Three men holding lamps walk by. They talk in low tones, and I turn to see where they’re going. I didn’t think there was anything behind me, but in the soft glow of their lamps, I see a pile of steel that looks like a giant spider’s web.

I follow the men, the pile of steel growing from one to several, and in the middle is a giant axle attached to the ground. The men raise their lamps. In the background are boxes as large as covered wagons.

“What’s this?” I ask.

“Mr. Ferris’s giant wheel. It was supposed to be ready for opening day, but as you can see, it’s not even close.”

It’s half built, a skeleton missing whole sections. I step forward and touch a piece of steel. It’s cold despite the warmth in the air. “That’s too bad. It would’ve been nice to ride it, to see the entire fair from the very top.”

Think Colorado’s Local Secrets

coloradoThose that know me, know my love of all things Colorado—even these crazy late April snowstorms, or what I like to call, second winter. I’ve spent years traveling the state, exploring hard to reach wilderness areas, playing on snow, in water, and among towering mountain ranges, and more recently, learning about the multitude of kid-friendly attractions that blanket Colorado like seed. Recently, I’ve started writing blogs for Think Colorado, revealing all sorts of Colorado secrets to my readers, which has been such incredible fun, like taking some my trips all over again. The downside, or course, is that in writing about some of my favorite Colorado locations, I long to hit the road for days on end, to enjoy these awesome secrets alongside my readers.

Come learn about some of my favorite sites, events, and recreation areas with Think Colorado’s Local Secrets.