Thursday, January 20, 2011

Replay by Ken Grimwood (audio)

Book Description:
Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn't know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again - in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle - each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market. A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time, Replay asks the question: "What if you could live your life over again?"

I really loved this audiobook, I was completely swept up in the story, though I didn't speed through it.  I savored it.  At times, I stopped listening for a while (X-mas holidays had me sidetracked), but when I returned to it, I was always glad to get back into the story of Jeff Winston and what he was going to do in his "current" life - for he has several.

Jeff is a 'replayer' a term he coins for this odd phenomenon that happens to him.  Dying from a sudden heart attack at his office while in his mid-40's in the late 1980's, Jeff doesn't die.  He inexplicably finds himself back in his old dorm room at Emory in Atlanta, early 1960's - he's 18 years old again.  Everything is just as it had been, same roommate, same girlfriend, same car, same everything.  Yet, he is not the same 18 year old.  This 18 year old remember what happens in life as the future unfolds.  He takes advantage of it, and bets everything on the Kentucky Derby - and wins.  He goes to Vegas and bets on something else - and wins.  He easily makes a fortune betting on sure things.  He tries to prevent the Kennedy assassination - but as it turns out, it wasn't just Lee Harvey Oswald - it was a conspiracy.  Jeff tries to stop Oswald, but someone else kills Kennedy instead, and Jack Ruby kills that person.  Some things Jeff can't change.   Eventually, he hooks up with a Vegas gold digger, Sharla, living the high life at age 18 - traveling and living in Paris, living in NYC, starting his own investment firm, he doesn't even bother with graduating from college - what's the point?  His life turns out completely different than his "first" life.  Successful, a millionaire, money is of no concern to Jeff now.  Married, with a daughter his life is going well.  Yet, when that fateful date comes around again, when he is 43 years old, no matter what he tries to do to prevent it's outcome, cardiologists, hospitals - he dies.  The same sudden heart attack. Where does he land? 

Atlanta.  Emory.  18 again.

And so it happens again and again.  Each life takes Jeff on a different journey.  Sometimes he tries to look up his first wife, Linda.  Another time, he marries his girlfriend from Emory.  Another time he meets another 'replayer,' Pamela, who becomes the love of his "lives."  Together they try to sort it out and find other "replayers" and figure out why this is happening to them.  They reunite a few times after they "die."  His relationship with Pamela is the one constant for him.  Yet, soon they realize that this 'replaying' is not going to go on indefinitely, there is an end eventually.  When they reach that point, the book is both fulfilling and bittersweet.

Does this sound bewildering?  Does it make your head hurt just trying to think about it?  Trust me, it's told so well, it's believable, it's poignant - stimulating.  I loved this book!  What a little gem I stumbled upon!  I identified with Jeff, felt his frustration and yet was enthralled by the way he lived each life - and how different they all were.  This is not another version of "Groundhog Day", it's much better, richer, detailed and "deeper."

If you like time travel or these kinds of stories, give it a try.  The setting for the most part was in the 1960's, one of my favorites.  A worthwhile read and the reader, William Dufris, who narrated this was wonderful as a Southern Jeff, with a bit of a Southern accent.  His girlfriends' voices (most of them Southern - with an irresistible lilt to them) were good too - I really enjoyed the whole thing, I was sorry when it ended!

Read this book - or listen to it, a real keeper!



Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Oh wow! I have got to get me one of these!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Yes, give it a try, it came out in 1988, won a few awards.

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