A sweeping, richly compassionate novel about marriage, ambition, and the reclaiming of love—by the bestselling novelist and co-founder of Narrative magazine.
Many love stories end in marriage; rare is the love story that begins with one— already promised, already worn. Set in San Francisco during the first year of Obama’s presidency, Three Stages of Amazement deftly charts the struggles and triumphs of Lena Rusch and her husband Charlie Pepper, who still believe they can have it all—sex, love, marriage, children, career, brilliance. But life delivers surprises and tests—a stillborn child, an economic crash, a ruthless business rival, and the attentions of an old lover. Touched by tragedy and by ordinary hopes unmet, Lena and Charlie must face, for the first time in their lives, real limitation.
Fifteen years after her stunning debut, Rise the Euphrates, Carol Edgarian has created a panoramic and deeply moving story about business and family and the demands of love in our time. Three Stages of Amazement takes readers on a spellbinding journey inside America today, with an unforgettable cast of characters including Cal Rusch, Lena’s uncle, a Silicon Valley titan, and Ivy, his socialite wife, who engender complication in the lives of all the people they touch: their grown children, business partners, friends, the servants and workers upon whom their glamorous life depends—and Lena, whose quest for grace is the pulse of this gorgeous novel.
As Lena and Charlie, Ivy and Cal face the temptations of their youth and the fantasy of starting over, they discover that real life is the ultimate challenge. Told with eloquence, wit, and compassion, Three Stages of Amazement is a true thriller of the heart, a riveting story about confronting adversity, gaining wisdom, and finding great love.
Edgarian's accomplished second novel (following Rise the Euphrates) looks at the way the privileged cope or fail to cope when the fates turn hard against them. Charlie Pepper gives up his surgical practice and moves his wife, Lena, and family to San Francisco to found Nimbus Surgical Devices, just in time for the 2008 market crash. While he scrambles to replace funding, Lena has her hands full with the household, a premature infant with multiple health issues, a young son, and her own family. They are already teetering on the edge when Charlie is offered funding from the one source Lena will object to: her uncle Cal, the man behind her father's failed business and, possibly, his death. Edgarian is in fine form, giving readers a well-told story with characters of great depth and complexity, but it is her crystalline writing and the unique narrative tone that elevates this the most.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Timely and Smart
Profoundly involving with an undercurrent of wisdom that had me reading sentences more than once to savor them. A party scene at the heart of the novel could give Mrs. Dalloway a run for her money. Beautifully conceived. highly recommended.
Three Stages of Boring
This novel is the obligatory quarterly call you try to avoid making to your former friend who has become an unabashed complaining housewife in the suburbs. I'll save my $12 and phone one of my sleep-deprived mother friends. The diction will be of nearly the same caliber and my interest level will steadily wane as it did with this novel.