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The Other Life Hardcover – February 17, 2011
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– Beth Harbison, New York Times bestselling author of Hope In A Jar
"The Other Life is a provocative and unique tale of the road not taken. Ellen Meister puts a magical, masterful spin on one of my favorite questions: "What if?" What if you took both roads? You won't want to miss this one!"
– Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon
"Ellen Meister makes a big leap toward the literary in The Other Life, a book where "What if" becomes the most powerful question in the world. This is the thinking woman's beach read, a love story to the modern family, written with a deep and lovely understanding of mothers and daughters and the sacrifices they'll make for each other."
– Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
"Intriguing, stimulating, original, unpredictable, frightening, utterly engaging—The Other Life reminded me why I love to read. Ellen Meister is a writer with a limitless future."
– Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling author of The Second Opinion and The Last Surgeon
"In her riveting breakthrough novel, The Other Life, gifted storyteller Ellen Meister doesn't just peek in on a young mother who straddles between love and doubt, she blows it open with a story of one who straddles two parallel universes, each with its own perilous decisions. It is a brave and honest exploration of the precarious limits of motherhood that will make readers wonder if Meister followed them with a probe and felt their racing hearts and hopes. If you have ever second guessed the biggest decisions of your life (and who hasn't), The Other Life is a captivating homage to the question, does love conquer all?"
– Saralee Rosenberg, author of Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead and Fate and Ms. Fortune
"I loved this emotional powerhouse of a novel that asks a daring "what if…" and manages to be as charming and funny as it is thoughtful and moving. Brava, Ellen Meister!"
– Melissa Senate, author of See Jane Date and The Secret of Joy
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Top Customer Reviews
What would you do if you had the option of escaping from today into a life that might have been yours had you made different choices? Quinn Braverman finds portals to the life she might have led to be irresistible lures. She vacillates between her present-day life and the road not taken throughout the novel. We find ourselves relating to Quinn and her family in one time frame and then, just as our comfort zone is set, we are drawn into Quinn's alternate life. Grieving over an abnormality in her unborn baby, Quinn desperately seeks comfort from her dead mother, Nan. However, in that alternate life, Nan had tormented her daughter with unpredictable episodes of depression. Complicated? Yes. Grief, emotional chaos and the difficulty of making the right choices abound. Ms. Meister handles all of this tricky business with ease. Some descriptions of sexual encounters are included, but they do not overwhelm the book.
Author, wife, mother, curator, and lecturer on literary issues, Ellen Meister created a masterpiece in her new novel, The Other Life. A departure from her earlier light, hilarious books, The Other Life not only explores mother/daughter love but is also a tribute both to its blessings and curses. In an interview, Ms. Meister stated that book clubs enjoy novels with fresh writing, complex characters and emotional dilemmas to which readers can relate. She met that challenge with this creative tour de force.Read more ›
Although extremely intrigued by the premise, I began reading Ellen Meister's wonderful novel, "The Other Life" with a bit of trepidation, as I thought I was, via reviews and word-of-mouth, already familiar with the possible scenario, thought I knew what to expect, e.g., woman is going through life-changing, difficult time in her life, woman is faced with a dilemma that could be heart-breaking no matter which path she took... I am, in a roundabout way, that woman, and I feared emotional overload, a reading experience too close to home to be comfortable. Yet read I did, and how glad I am that I ignored any niggling "Oh, it will depress you," and "Do you REALLY want to go there?" thoughts. This book is anything but depressing, and is, in fact, everything that contemporary fiction should be: Thought-provoking, intelligent, unique, and unforgettable.
Meister deftly leads the reader from a world of domestic conventionality into one of surrealistic normalcy (for lack of a better term), and does so with careful pacing and subtle whispers as opposed to a heavy-handed dose of "weirdifying for the sake of being weird" a lesser author might employ. The cast of robust, three-dimensional characters -- all of whom seemed so real to me, I could picture their laugh lines, hear their voices -- are a delight to know, and beautifully wrought with endearing quirks, witticisms, compassion, and an imperfect humanness that touches the soul.
And the last paragraph in the book is killer. Killer.
There are certainly characters here who are hard to cozy up to; for all Quinn's love for and devotion to her mother, the reader is left with a picture of a woman who is in some ways selfless, and in some ways selfish. Which, of course, is perfectly natural, except I still wanted Nan to be better, and while Quinn ultimately forgives her for her tragic choice, it was harder for me to. There was a part of me that wished the story had ended differently, though I suspected what I thought Quinn would do. The complications with her pregnancy lend the book a somewhat tragic air, though there are moments of levity, such as her neighbor Georgette, who's having a cyber affair, her brother and his boyfriend's ongoing relationship ups and downs, and her visits, in her other life, to places like Fiji.
Meister has created a moving look at one woman's struggle between the present and the past and there were many layers of action and history happening all at once. That Quinn could see and travel into more than one alternate world was hard to wrap my brain around at times, but the visceral descriptions of her passage from one world to the other, her disorientation and yet also ease in the other life, were done wonderfully. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Other Life has to be one of my classic reads; it would find it's way to the top of any list I can imagine of all the books I have read during the past seventy years and I could... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Roland Angell
Very interesting story and concept! Thought it was very unique and it kept my attention throughout!Published 7 months ago by T. Lynn
Thoroughly disliked this book about a woman who couldn't make up mind which life she wanted to live. Totally unbelievable.Published 9 months ago by bearlycarol
I haven't quite finished this book yet but I love the portal concept and how the author makes it feel very real and possible. The characters are also very interesting.Published 10 months ago by Clare Turner
Thirty-four year old, Quinn, housewife and mother, has a secret. She can escape her current life and enter a portal, not to the past or future, but to an alternate life and then... Read morePublished 10 months ago by PostingForNow
HE OTHER LIFE, by Ellen Meister is totally mesmerizing and spellbinding; an exploration of a young woman, a mother--of parallel universes, a crossroad, a pivotal choice, and a... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Judith D. Collins