I’ve never read anything quite like this lyrical and infinitely wise novel. . . . If books could shimmer, this one would.—Elizabeth Berg, author of The Dream Lover
Spanning seventy years and several continents, this enthralling novel tells the braided love story of three unforgettable characters. In 1946, Walter Westhaus, a German-Jewish refugee who spent the war years at Tagore’s ashram in India, arrives at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, where he meets Sol Kerem, a promising rabbinical student. A brilliant nonbeliever, Walter is the perfect foil for Sol’s spiritual questions . . . and an alluring paramour for Sol’s free-spirited fiancée, Rosalie. Months later they shatter their impossible bond, retreating to opposite sides of the country—Walter to pursue an academic career in Berkeley, and Sol and Rosalie to lead a congregation in suburban New York. A chance meeting years later reconnects them—catching three hearts and minds in a complex web of desire, heartbreak, and redemption. With extraordinary empathy and virtuosic skill, The Beautiful Possible considers the hidden boundaries of marriage and faith, and the mysterious ways we negotiate our desires.
Enchanting. . . . Read it once for its story, again for its wisdom, and one more time for its poetry and truth. —Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus and The History of Last Night’s Dream
Title: The Beautiful Possible
Author: Amy Gottlieb
Genre: Literature & Fiction | Genre Fiction |
Religious Fiction–Jewish | Family Saga
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published: February 16, 2016
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
FTC Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.
I cannot remember reading a debut novel and finding myself so entranced with the writer’s choice of words and ability to create music all around me. Such is the quality of Amy Gottlieb’s writing in The Beautiful Possible.
As the story progressed and the morality of the players came into question, I wasn’t sure this book was for me. However, the characters are genuine, self-satisfied, choosing for themselves, and with no intent to harm others. Once the characters were well aligned and the story arc began to rise, there was no turning my back on The Beautiful Possible.
Not being Jewish, I sometimes felt as if I was flying at half-mast, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. Sol’s total commitment to his Jewish faith and his rabbinical calling suffers at times due to Rosalie’s less than total commitment to her Jewish faith. A third party, Walter–not Jewish, really not religious–but enraptured by Rosalie and a friend of Sol’s.
Ultimately, Rosalie becomes the mortar holding this unique gathering of three in the midst of complexities of desire, broken hearts, and redemption. Central to the success of the story is the wisdom which permeates as the characters travel in time from 1938 to the early 2000’s. Times change, people change. With change comes wisdom.
This is a love story, or perhaps I should say love stories. But also a story of the love of words. Therein lies the magical aspect of Amy Gottlieb’s writing. She is capable of penning a story which, by its words, leads you to another place, another time, almost another world, and you never left home.
Kudos to the author!
To my readers, don’t miss this one!
Amy Gottlieb’s fiction and poetry have been published in many literary journals and anthologies, and she is the recipient of fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She lives in New York City.
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