“I have nothing but praise for this wonderful novel! Edgarian's ability to capture the reality of the everyday routines and dilemmas of her characters results in a powerful connection with the reader. Her interconnected stories grip us not only because of the lessons they teach, but also because of her astonishing skill and wisdom as a storyteller who makes the mundane become so compelling. I truly couldn't stop thinking about these people long after turning the last page.”
— Roberta Rubin, The Book Stall At Chestnut, Winnetka, IL
A sweeping, richly compassionate novel about marriage, ambition, and the reclaiming of love—by the bestselling novelist and cofounder 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, 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. She 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 the 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 the redo, they discover that real life is the ultimate challenge. Told with eloquence 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.
Carol Edgarian is author of the novels Three Stages of Amazement and the best-selling Rise the Euphrates, winner of the ANC Freedom Award. Her articles and essays have appeared in many national magazines, and she co-edited the popular collection drawn from great writers' diaries, The Writer's Life: Intimate Thoughts on Work, Love, Inspiration, and Fame. She is co-founder, editor and publisher of the non-profit magazine Narrative (www.NarrativeMagazine.com) and Narrative in the Schools, a program to encourage reading and writing in schools across America. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Tom Jenks, and their three daughters.
“Edgarian (Rise the Euphrates) spares no emotion in this big, lovely second novel about decent people falling apart under the demands that there be more than 24 hours in a day and more than parental determination to juggle life's realities against the heart's desire.”
—Library Journal (starred)
“"In what may well be the most serious and the most entertaining domestic novel of the year, San Francisco writer Carol Edgarian delivers a new turn on Tolstoy's old chestnut: "Happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." She calls her book Three Stages of Amazement and sets it in San Francisco toward the end of the "dot com" craze. We meet Lena Rusch, an appealing but harried mother of two whose surgeon husband has been trying, with middling success, to found his own medical device company. The novel deftly dramatizes questions about the essence of married life and throws in a mystery about Lena's origins for good measure. But there's no mystery as to how Edgarian keeps us going - deep insight into human behavior, coupled with the right language to describe it... Beautifully written and deeply engaging.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered
“Both an epic love story and a reflection of social anthropology in America today, Three Stages of Amazement is a gracefully rendered narrative of the inevitable joys and heartaches we face in adulthood… Edgarian’s sharp, beautiful prose captures the essence of the human condition in all its pain and glory.”—The Daily Beast
“It’s been 17 years since Carol Edgarian’s best-selling, critically acclaimed first novel, Rise the Eurphrates announced the arrival of a gifted and ambitious young writer. Yet that long pause feels right when you read Three Stages of Amazement, her rueful, wholly adult novel...Edgarian brilliantly evokes the grim daily grind… Superbly crafted, skillfully plotted text… Three Stages of Amazement savors the rich complexity of human beings and the world they negotiate.”—Washington Post
“Lush and elegant… Edgarian is an exceptionally gifted and generous storyteller.”—Associated Press
“Edgarian beautifully captures the fierceness of this mother’s love.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Refreshingly grown-up, this love story follows a couple as they deal with the economic crash, a preemie, and an old flame showing up at just the wrong time.”—Good Housekeeping
“What really got my literary pulse racing is Edgarian's most fascinating creation, Lena's estranged uncle, 79-year-old Cal Rusch… This legendary Silicon Valley mogul -- a diabolically clever cross between Steve Jobs and Donald Trump -- sets the pages on fire every time he shows up.”—Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today
“Edgarian returns with another potent tale…. The panoramic view Edgarian provides of a culture and people dealing with change is impressive.”—Booklist
“Edgarian’s novel examines the intricate economies of the modern American marriage... beautiful and as messy and complicated as real life.”—The New York Times Book Review