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The Beautiful Possible

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  748 ratings  ·  130 reviews
This epic, enthralling debut novel—in the vein of Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love—follows a postwar love triangle between an American rabbi, his wife, and a German-Jewish refugee.

Spanning seventy years and several continents—from a refugee’s shattered dreams in 1938 Berlin, to a discontented American couple in the 1950s, to a young woman’s life in modern-day Jerusalem—
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by Harper Perennial
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  748 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: $1.99 kindle special today. You can see from my old review- that I LOVED THIS BOOK...
I hope the author has a new novel coming out soon but until then I highly recommend this one.

A FAVORITE...A FAVORITE...A FAVORITE!!!! 5+++++ Stars!!!!!

ANNOUNCEMENT: for my friends & Fiction Readers: We have discovered *GOLD* with Amy Gottlieb's debut novel.
The story is spellbinding -
The prose is pulchritudinous and symphonic-
The characters are bold, brassy, bodacious, and temerarious -

Always Pouting
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those novels where peoples lives intersect over long periods of years in strange ways with the back drop of historical events, mostly centered around a love triangle which isn't quite a love triangle but just someone's wife having an on and off affair with someone else over years. The writing was above average and the characters are faceted. Some times the story got a little slow for me but it wasn't hard to read all the way through. An okay book, nothing memorable but if you read it it's ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ew
The Beautiful Possible did not start out as a 5 star read for me, but about half way through I realized that I was totally immersed in this crazy story and beautiful prose. It ended up being a one day read, high jacking my Sunday and keeping me from a long list of chores. I can't say too much about the story without giving away spoilers. The story follows Rosalie, Sol and Walter from the late 1930s to the present. Rosalie is the daughter of a rabbi in Brooklyn, engaged to marry Sol who is ...more
Angela M
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some readers may not care for what happens in the relationships between the characters in this story , may not agree with what they do on a moral level. That was never an issue for me because the relationships here are so genuine, the characters so passionate and some things that seem wrong felt so right . These characters are each in their own way flawed , and the author has done a wonderful job of drawing them out as they evolve over the years . Walter , a German Jew, a refugee to India is ...more
Violet wells
The central thrust of the publisher’s promotion of this novel is to liken it to Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love. However, though this too is a Jewish “history of love”, The Beautiful Possible is essentially a very conventional novel in terms of structure, perspective, character study and plot. It has none of the exuberant architectural mischief of Nicole Kraus’ novel. What prevents The Beautiful Possible from being the playing out of just another rather predictable love triangle is Gottlieb’s ...more
Violet wells
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
The central thrust of the publisher’s promotion of this novel is that it’s like Nicola Krauss’ The History of Love. However, though this too is a Jewish “history of love”, The Beautiful Possible is essentially a very conventional novel in terms of structure, perspective, character study and plot. It has none of the exuberant architectural mischief of Nicole Kraus’ novel. What prevents The Beautiful Possible from being the playing out of just another rather predictable love triangle is Gottlieb’s ...more
Heather Fineisen
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. There are so many tabs sticking out of it where I marked passages, such as , "But does forever refer to a unit of time or a condition of the heart?" to "I can smell your life on your body. Your real life."

This is a love story of people and a love story of words, passionately charged, beautifully told. Gottlieb imagines the life of a young rabbi with such detail for the time period, you can feel yourself in seminary, in shul. Her imagery is lyrical and the characters are so
Dov Zeller
(Caution: Plot elements revealed in this review!)

This book was recommended recently by a GR friend and I'm glad I read it. I finished it in one sitting, which is pretty rare for me. There were interesting thematic explorations and the writer's agility and movement through time and place was admirable.

What I most appreciate about "The Beautiful Possible" is the unflinching look at cultural and social pressures and internal struggles around relationships. This is a story focused mainly on a female
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
The Beautiful Possible was an easy read and my curiosity about what would happen to the characters kept me turning the pages. I liked the way Gottlieb skillfully braided in a Jewish spiritual theme. But the novel felt out of focus, the characters blurry, and the love triangle unconvincing.

Rebecca Heagy
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book during a cross country plane trip and it was great for that. I never got bored and kept turning the pages but overall, I liked but didn't love the book. It is essentially the story of a love triangle between a married couple and a friend they met when they were young but remained connected to throughout their lives. Despite the interesting religious themes the book started to feel a bit "soapy" to me at times. I felt that Rosalie's and Walter's relationship was fairly well drawn ...more
nikkia neil
This is a beautiful, moving, indescribable. I feel like a learned alot about love and the philosophy of life from a rabbi I wish I could met. Amy Gotlieb is a amazing author. I've read so many books, but this one really is one of the books I think book clubs and readers will love too.
Roger Brunyate
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: holocaust, religion, women
Body, Mind, and Spirit: a Symphonic Web
She'ela: Can the body ask one question and the mind another?
Teshuva: As God is one, the mind and body are one.
The essence of this heady novel, expressed in the form of She'ela and Teshuva, a rabbinic game of question and answer; Amy Gottlieb sprinkles such couplets throughout her book like pungent intellectual seasoning. I am not Jewish, and know neither Hebrew nor Talmud. But I find myself fascinated by books as steeped as this one in the minutiae of
Sep 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The book offers a complex love story, a ménage a trois, with the horrors of the Holocaust as backstory to the 30+ years relationship of the three adults. Then to add fuel to the flames of this fiery relationship, the 3 adults are steeped in religious ardor. The two married partners are rabbis (or pseudo-rabbis, each exchanging roles during the marriage) and the third partner is an academic in religious/ spiritual beliefs. Does it work as a story? Is it a believable life-long love, by any of the ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I mostly read genre fiction so this was a bit of a departure for me but I enjoyed it immensely. I would not be surprised to see it on multiple awards list this next year. It is the story of a tangled global web of love without judgement told with a voice that has been filtered through the mysticism of the Torah. I thought that the main characters all came across as imperfect, flawed examples of humanity rather than a series of heroes and villains. The background characters felt two dimensional ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I must begin by saying that I received The Beautiful Possible from the publisher in a giveaway that I entered on Goodreads. My review is based totally on my own opinions of what I thought of The Beautiful Possible after completing reading it. Although there were questions about morals right from the beginning of this book I found them easy to ignore as Amy Gottlieb drew my into the story and characters of her novel. This is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. I was transported ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It might be a four star but it I need more time to digest it.

It is a truly dense book, intriguing in it’s smart prose and religious and philosophical dialogue. It is definitely as sexy as could be about pure lust driven by some mysterious magnetism or predestination.

Who knows??? This is a recurring question and all the answers are cloaked in different points of view and repeated continually. Ultimately, answers are, maybe....maybe not. Yes and no.
Answers common among the practitioners of the
Lisa Feld
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book hits a lot of my sweet spots: It pulls back the curtain to see the private lives of clergy, offers hints of Jewish mysticism and poetry, and takes a historical milieu I thought I knew (conformist, 1950s suburbia) and opens it up in new ways by bringing in an awareness of what else was going on at the time (New Age movements and the seeds of Second Wave feminism).

But my favorite part of this braided saga has to be the generational story. It's fascinating to watch Sol and Rosalie's lives
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: jewish
A bit too lyrical for me.
Maria Dolorico
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am going this book 5 stars, even though I think the character who closed the novel was not the right voice to end the novel. The story was so good and absorbing, though, that I really don't care.

I loved the three characters - Rosalie, Walter, and Sol. Imperfect humans just trying to live good lives, while the forces that take up their hearts and minds overwhelm them. They are well fleshed, and I had no problem being sucked into their romances, longings and frustrations. This is a book about
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book. The first thing you'll notice is the stunning language. It's a novel, but I found myself trying to memorize the many amazing lines. It's like reading poetry. The beauty of the book doesn't end there; the story itself is delicately woven. The characters are complex but also rich and sympathetic. For me, the layer of theological and biblical imagery was an added bonus. It's skillfully done and enriches the story. It's not an exaggeration when I say that I closed ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was intense and very thought provoking. I wish I'd read it with a book club. As I read it I wasn't sure how much I liked it, but I think it will stay with me and grow on me as I reflect on all that it entailed.
Patricia Barrett
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beverly - you were not wrong. Beautifully written.
Sue Baga
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book quickly. I loved the use of poetry, Jewish language and traditions throughout. The story line kept me curious. I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaway!
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I did not want to set this book down. Usually when a book is called "lyrical" it is code word for wordy without story; this book however, is truly lyrical. The main character, Rosalie, is well-fleshed and her lifetime dilemma, between man chosen and life chosen is well done. Although it is steeped in Torah studies and Jewish faith, much of the story could be any belief system or life choices. A near perfect story, I look forward to more books by this author and hope that this book is not her one ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-fiction
Speed reading proved easy in this lyrical tale spanning seventy years about the relationships between a handful of close friends/lovers/family. Helped that it was a weekend, too. :p

Starting in 1938 and ending in 2008, this is the story of three people as chronicled by someone of the next generation. Walter is a German Jewish refugee; an atheist who, after losing his family in the early years of the Holocaust, spends the war at an ashram in India. He ultimately moves to the Jewish Theological
Cindy Stein
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Three lives braided together and a fourth that comes from these intersections.

Walter is a German Jewish refugee who escapes Berlin in 1938 after his fiance and father are shot by the Nazis. Grief stricken he boards a ship in Italy bound for Shanghai, but then follows a man in a brown hat and disembarks in India where he works through his grief by smelling and selling spices and spending time at an ashram. He is taken to the US by an older professor who sees great promise in him. In NYC at the
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book starts in Germany during Hitler’s rise with a young man named Walter, his fiancee Sonia and his father all living in an apartment. Walter and Sonia are making plans to leave and go to Palestine as it’s not really an ideal place for Jews. Plans are just coming together when Walter’s father and Sonia are killed and Walter finds himself alone. He leaves intending to follow the plan but he ends up in India instead of Palestine. He follows a man in a felt hat off of the boat and his life ...more
Darth Vix
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Fiction
I’d like to say a big thank you to the author, TLC Book Tours and Harper Perennial for giving me the chance to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Beautiful Possible is a work of historical fiction. It is told in the perspectives of our three main characters Walter, Rosaline and Sol. Walter is a German Jew who has experienced great tragedy which prompts his exodus to India where he means Paul, a man who ultimately guides him to America. There he meets Sol and his
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.

I cannot remember reading a debut novel and finding myself so entranced with the writer's choice of words and ability to create music all around me. Such is the quality of Amy Gottlieb's writing in The Beautiful Possible.

As the story progressed and the morality of the players came into question, I wasn't sure this book was for me. However, the
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 4 Dec 24, 2015 09:27AM  

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Amy is a graduate of Clark University and the University of Chicago. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Other Voices, Lilith, Puerto del Sol, Zeek, Storyscape, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poetry, and elsewhere. She has received a Literary Fellowship and Residency from the Bronx Council on the Arts, and an Arts Fellowship from the Drisha Institute for Jewish ...more
“We are all connected in the unending chain of belief and doubt. Together we can answer each other's questions.” 3 likes
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