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Publisher's Summary

When Dr. Leo Liebenstein's wife disappears, she leaves behind a single, confounding clue - a woman who looks, talks, and behaves almost exactly like her and who audaciously claims to be her.

While everyone else is fooled by this imposter, Leo knows better. Certain that his real wife is alive and in hiding, Leo embarks on a quixotic journey to reclaim his lost love.

From the streets of New York to the southernmost reaches of Patagonia, Leo's quest becomes a test of how far he is willing to take his struggle against the seemingly uncontestable truth he knows in his heart to be false.

©2008 Rivka Galchen; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Everything is other than it appears to be in Galchen's assured debut - an intricate puzzle powered by urgently beating heart....A superb first novel." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Witty, tender, and conceptually dazzling, Galchen's metaphysical tale of longing, grief, love, and the volatility of the self gracefully charts the tempestuous weather of the human psyche." (Booklist)
"Galchen's astonishing debut is rich in detail and scientific exploration and a kind of dreamy psychological dissembling that keeps the reader as baffled as Leo right to the end." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Sarah
  • Kanata, Ontario, Canada
  • 11-17-09

Worth Listening to Again

I don't often say a book is worth listening to twice. But this book is beautifully written, and beautifully narrated. I often found myself going back one, two, or five minutes to listen again--not because it was hard to follow, but because I found it such compelling language I wanted to memorize it. That "re-read" only is found with the really good books. This is one of those. A rare five stars from me.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeremy
  • St Paul, MN, USA
  • 08-19-09

I liked it

I got a lot out of this book. It's like Vertigo, written by Charlie Kaufman, starring Robert Downey Jr. The story isn't much itself, but the writing is great and the narrator makes it easy to follow the overly observant and analytical protagonist. The writing is full of interesting scientific and psychological anecdotes that the protagonist struggles with trying to make sense of his subjective reality. More than anything this is a story about love and the way people change, or the way people think people change.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Implausible story line ruins the book

The author has done a nice job of writing, using a rich vocabulary, and the narrator does a very good job of reading, but the storyline of this book is so improbable I finally couldn't take it anymore. Does the author really think that if you were confronted with someone identical in appearance and mannerisms to your spouse but you thought was possibly an impostor, that you wouldn't be able to ask some "only your real spouse could know the answer" questions and determine very quickly if that person was the genuine article or not? Somehow, the main character of this book never thinks to do that, and thus his uncertainty continues. That uncertainty is what the whole story revolves around (at least up until the point I gave up).

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Amazing

The bad reviews on this book are extremely misleading. If you're looking to be rapt with attention, swept up in the plot, or otherwise moved by the grandiosity of this story than this novel might not be for you.

If language and it's nuances are more up your alley read on. Galchen masterfully weaves through the taxonomy of her narrators deteriorating mind on a wild goose chase for sanity.

An emotional look at the plight of losing a sense for one's own consciousness and the repercussions it might have on those around you.

This book is unforgettable.

  • Overall
  • William
  • TEMPLETON, CA, USA
  • 09-15-08

Don't waste your time (or money)

I must agree with the other reviewers. I stuck it out until about the middle of the book and I finally gave up. I'm sure there must be some point at the end to all the ramblings of Dr. L. However, when I have to force myself to continue just to get to the end, it's time to move on to a new book.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rebecca
  • Van Alstyne, TX, USA
  • 08-21-08

ugh!

Still trying to get through this one. Pretty boring so far. I may never listen to the full story.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The Emperor's New Clothes

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I know this book received some acclaim, but I must disagree with any positive review of this book. I feel like the little boy in the Emperor's New Clothes. After reading the book, I attended a panel discussion with the Author, Rivka Galchen. The book is neither science based, suspenseful, or even entertaining. As an exploration of memory, mind, or even madness, it is banal and rampant with pseudo science. As written from the perspective of the madman, it is not only confusing, but boring. The reader needs some reliable reference to comprehend the novel. The writing style is pretentious and silly. If you enjoy reading the 'New Yorker', you might enjoy this read. The performance of the audio book was flat, and uniteresting. Although to be fair to Malcolm Hilgartner, there would not likely be any amount of drama created by his delivery to keep you awake for this over long novel. If you would like to avoid buyer's remorse, stop now. To end on a positive note, Rivka seems to be a very intelligent, accomplished person in a variety of disciplines. This was her first book, and perhaps she will improve with practice. I will need some convincing before I read another Rivka Galchen book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I saw no redeeming qualities in this book.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carole
  • La Jolla, CA, United States
  • 07-01-08

Disjointed

A fabulous title for a rambling, uninteresting novel. You never really know if the man's wife is missing or not although this premise is very enticing. Our main character could be imagining it all and if indeed he is insane, it is not amusingly so.

A weak read, dull and unengaging. Chose another.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful