I could start with a chain of adjectives--dazzling, gorgeous, thrilling, surprising, inventive, masterly--but maybe the best thing to say right off the bat is that I love this book. Carol Edgarian has written a novel of such intelligence and humanity, such humor and pathos, that everything else I've read lately pales in comparison, and I'm using that cliché advisedly, since this book is written in the most vibrant of colors.
At its heart is a marriage (and what a heart, and what a marriage)--between Lena Rusch and Charlie Pepper, who are easily the most vividly drawn wife and husband in recent fiction. These two are so alive on the page that you want to interrupt their conversations to remind them of important bits of their history, lest, in the passion of love or argument, they temporarily, and to their peril, lose sight of all that matters. Their test comes at the exact moment in our recent history when the economy hit bottom, and the stakes--for Lena and Charlie, for the country--are so high you have to set the book down every now and then just to catch your breath.
The other couple in this novel, the aging financial titan Cal and his socialite wife Ivy, are just as indelibly written and perhaps all the more marvelous for the way the author easily avoids the pitfalls of writing about the very rich and instead puts flesh (endangered) and blood (thinning) on the very human shapes of these people.
Three Stages of Amazement is one of those books you read in a great rush and then buy for all of your friends--a big, generous novel that reminds us why living inside a novel for a few days is still and always will be one of the great human experiences. Oh, and it contains absolutely the most poignant scene anywhere of a man climbing an oak tree in order to find a cell phone signal.
From Publishers Weekly
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