Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alice's Review: The Other Life

The Other LifeSummary: 
Quinn Braverman is keeping two secrets from her loving husband, Lewis. One is that the real reason she chose him over Eugene, her neurotic, semi-famous ex-boyfriend, was to prove to her mother that she could have a happy, stable relationship with the guy next door.  The other is that Quinn knows another life exists in which she made the other choice and stayed with Eugene. The two lives run in parallel lines, like highways on opposite sides of a mountain. There, on the other side, the Quinn who stayed with Eugene is speeding through her high-drama, childless life in Manhattan. Here, the Quinn who married Lewis lives in the suburbs, drives a Volvo, and has an adorable young son with another baby on the way.  But the important part of the secret—the part that terrifies and thrills her—is that she knows it's possible to cross from one life to the other. So far she’s played it safe, never venturing over to see what’s on the other side. Then a shocking turn of events rattles Quinn to her very core, and she makes the reckless choice to finally see what she’s been missing. There, she not only rediscovers her exciting single life, but meets the one person she thought she’d lost forever. Her mother. But Quinn can’t have both lives. Soon, she must decide which she really wants—the one she has…or the other life?  - www.ellenmeister.com

Review:  I was very intrigued when I read the synopsis for this novel.  I am one of those people who can't help but wonder what if?  It's something I have always done.  I wonder how different my life would have been if so-and-so had chosen me, if I had stayed in college, if I actually stuck to a diet , if I took that nanny job in Florida.  So many questions without answers.

When I picked up this novel I was expecting a nice light run of the mill novel about what ifs.  If you have already guessed that's not what I got, you would be right.  This novel is so much more.  Yes, Quinn has the opportunity to see what her other life was like and yes, she can pass back and forth through them but it's so much more than that. 

There is so much I want to tell you about this novel, but like Jenn's last review, I can't because I don't want to give too much away.  I really enjoyed the time I spent with Quinn.  Ms. Meister created a real, giving, well rounded character.  It was very easy to feel empathy, not sympathy for Quinn.  She was strong beyond her own comprehension. 

My favorite character was Nan, Quinn's artist mother.  Right from the beginning I felt a bond with the damaged woman who gave up everything for the sake of her family.  I felt her struggles, I sat with her in that darkness, I saw the world through her eyes.  She was beautifully flawed.  If I had one literary wish, it would be for Ms. Meister to write Nan's story. I want to know where she began and what happened to bring her to her resolution. 

If you are looking for a nice light read, this novel isn't it.  If you are looking for a novel that will bring you to tears in the best way possible, this is it.  There is so much good in this novel.   My favorite chapters are the Quinn Deconstruction paintings.  I loved the way Nan describes the paintings.  I could picture them in my minds eye.  I would buy one if they were real.

I leave you with this little morsel.  There is a scene in the novel where a woman is crying out in anguish.  Ms. Meister describes it as "It came from the place where loss met fury."  Man, I loved that line.  That's some good stuff.  So good that I felt it too. 

Final Take:  4/5

Thanks to Lydia Hirt of Putnam Books for providing me with this advanced copy. 

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