"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Friday, March 19, 2010

Replay by Ken Grimwood

Please note: Links pointing to Amazon contain my affiliate ID. Sales resulting from clicks on those links will earn me a percentage of the purchase price. So buy and read now!

Summary: A journalist gets to repeat his life over and over again.

On the third week of October 1988, journalist Jeff Winston dies of a heart attack in the middle of a droning conversation with his wife and “wakes up” alive at age 19, back in his old college dorm room in 1963. He realizes he must now replay the next 25 years of his life. A few smart sporting wagers and 12 million dollars later, Jeff thinks he is set for life. Until he dies again on the same third week in October in 1988. And again and again and again.

As Jeff replays his lives, he encounters his wife Linda in many forms and many different ways. Jeff uses his journalist’s knowledge of major newsworthy events to make slight alterations in his favor and plays a major role in the Kennedy assassination, with surprising results. Careless conversation where Jeff inadvertently tells the future are giggle-inducing while the birth of Jeff’s daughter inspires Jeff lives out all the various permutations that readers would expect: successful financial decisions, sexual abandon and drug use, isolation in the woods, scientific exploration, meditation. Until one day in one of his lives, he meets Pamela, another replayer.

While this is a fantastical (yet philosophical) thriller, it is also a romance, as Jeff experiences the joy of being with someone who truly understands him.

Jeff and Pamela enjoy the rest of their lives together, until that same third week in October in 1988. They find each other again, though at different points and with different memories. Why are they replaying? Will it end? What’s the point of it all?

Replay is for anyone who has wondered about our purpose, our paths, our choices as humans. But it’s also great fiction. Easy to read, well-written and perfect for a book club as it will spark hours of “what if” conversation. 

No comments:

Post a Comment