The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb

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Paperback, 336 pgs.
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The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb will immerse readers in the religious fervor of Judaism, which is both beautiful in its confinement and infuriating in its inability to be more flexible. Opening with Maya Kerem reminiscing about her parents, the novel seems as though it’s going to be a love story about her parents, but then, readers are introduced to German Jew Walter Westhaus, whose life is shattered one night by the Nazis in 1938.  The tragedy he experiences in his apartment pushes him into blind action, leaving his homeland to board a boat and travel not to Palestine as he and his fiance dreamed but to Bombay, as he follows a man with a brown felt hat.

“They are alone for four days and their recognizable lives become obliterated, irrelevant.  For both of them, this time is not joyful, but necessary.” (pg. 199 ARC)

Despite the complications and the religious context, the story of Walter is one that is familiar, a man who becomes lost in the face of trauma and who wanders to find meaning in what’s left of his life.  The man with the brown felt hat befriends him among the spices and dreams of a different life for Walter.  He begs Walter to come to America and become a scholar of religion and faith.  This is a friendship held at a distance, a connection that allows Walter to meet Sol Kerem and Rosalie Wachs, with whom he will be connected in the most beautiful and impossible ways — creating a deep love and braided life that is beneath the surface of all that they are.

The poetry of the Torah and the other texts examined in Rabbinical school by Walter and Sol mimic the beautiful relationship between Sol, Rosalie, and Walter, an impossible braid that cannot be broken because if it were, all strength would be lost.  While Gottlieb’s characters are each lost in their own way, when they come together, they find the strength and faith they need to keep going, even when they are miles and countries apart.  Like the intertwined relationships of the novel, Gottlieb weaves in religious texts and rituals in a way that is seamless and artistic, making beautiful the impossible.

“…the secret of these weeks will resound in my bones as private music that only I will be able to hear.” (g. 70 ARC)

The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb is a rapture where decisions are not analyzed but made, and where love is the driving force of faith.  Even in death, a story can live on, unraveling its intricate and closely held secrets for all to behold.  It’s a mystical take on the average lives we lead and how they compare to the dreams of something more that we harbor in locked places.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Author:

Amy Gottlieb’s fiction and poetry have been published in many literary journals and anthologies, and she is the recipient of fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She lives in New York City.






I’m calling this my A Fiction Book set during WWII.

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    Thanks for passing on your copy to me. Looking forward to reading it since you loved it so much!

  • Trish Collins

    I love the quotes you used! The writing seems effortless!

  • Melanie

    “…where love is the driving force of faith.” – This sounds like such a fascinating premise!

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I would think the religious context was necessary to tell Walter’s tale – this sounds really good.