by Amy Gottlieb
February 16, 2016
Welcome to the second to the last stop for The Beautiful Possible blog book tour!
Reading The Beautiful Possible was pure literary pleasure. I find believing that this novel is Amy Gottlieb’s first book published very difficult. I envision The Beautiful Possible winning some prestigious literary awards. This novelist’s first story is not popular fiction, chick lit, or fluff—The Beautiful Possible is literary fiction—defined as “serious fiction, is a term principally used for fictional works that hold literary merit, that is to say, they are works that offer deliberate social commentary, political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition.” (Wikipedia)
The story begins with Walter Westhaus and his beautiful fiancée, Sonia, planning to escape Nazi Germany in 1938. They just need a little more time to convince Walter’s father, a philosophy professor, that they should all make the move together. Too late. One morning soldiers raid their apartment and Sonia and the father are gunned down. Walter was in the bedroom and hides from the Nazis so his life is spared.
Walter, a writer and student of poetry, leaves Germany a broken and depressed young man. He boards the wrong ship in his depressed and grieving state. The boat he boards is bound for Shanghai. Walter is near mute on the trip and the other passengers have little interaction with him. He decides to debark in Bombay as he follows one of the other passengers off the boat. Walter follows this man with a brown felt hat but then quickly loses him. For many years, Walter lives in Bombay working for a spice seller. The man in the brown felt hat was in Bombay to study ancient religions when Walter followed him. Years later he finds Walter with a proposition to go to America and study. He had kept tabs on Walter.
Walter decides to go to New York even though he has no intention of formal study. He has learned much in India and studies various religions and philosophies on his own, but believes in nothing. At the school, Walter befriends a young rabbinical student and the fiancée of the student, Sol and Rosalie, respectively. This young couple is soon to be married and are anxious for their married life to begin. Rosalie is attracted to Walter and is drawn to him. Walter and Rosalie begin a passionate love affair that never really ends, even though Walter moves to the West Coast and Rosalie and Sol marry and have three sons.
This triumvirate’s lives are entwined with each other over their course of their lifetimes. The odd relationships of all three are told in a magical, non-judgmental way of writing by Ms. Gottlieb. After the first few pages of the book, I knew that her writing was on a different, higher level than most.
From the publisher:
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.
Other tour stops for The Beautiful Possible can be found HERE.
Links for Amy Gottlieb: