Three Stages of Amazement

"In this gorgeously written, haunting and often hilarious novel, Carol Edgarian conjures a particular moment in America's recent history and unleashes within it a collision of universal forces:  love, desire, ambition, loyalty.  I can't think of a book that more viscerally evokes the gritty challenge-and casual heroism-of motherhood and marriage."
—JENNIFER EGAN, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad

"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, March 10, 2011

"It's been 17 years since Carol Edgarian's best-selling, critically acclaimed first novel, "Rise the Euphrates," 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." —WASHINGTON POST    READ MORE  



"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." —Alan Cheuse, "Better Summer Reads" on NPR's ALL THINGS CONSDIERED


 "Amazement" is a rare book -- one that can make you laugh, make you cry, and leave you thinking."  —SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS


"Set in San Francisco, this rich book by Carol Edgarian evokes all the promise inveterate readers invest in the word "novel." Portraying the "post-blush" of love in a marriage weathered by financial crisis, grief, and the humblings of middle age, Edgarian animates real characters and identifiable lives with uncommon generosity. — Barnes and Noble Review

"Carol Edgarian's novel is a book about grown-ups for grown-ups.  Given that we never really grow up, yet have to make our way in the world, it ends up being thought provoking, intelligent, wise, sad, and illuminating.  If that makes it sound too lofty, it's not: it's humane and therefore sometimes funny, and it nails the complexities of adulthood with a steel hammer held gently in very capable hands."
—ANN BEATTIE, author of Walks with Men and Ann Beattie: The New Yorker Stories

Three Stages of Amazement is one of those books you read in a great rush and then buy for all of your friends—a big, generous novel that reminds us why living inside a novel for a few days is still and always will be one of the great human experiences.
—ANN PACKER, author of Dive From Clausen Pier and Swim Back To Me

"Love, family, marriage, illness and money--this is a life story and a love story for our era, beautifully observed, sharply etched by a master storyteller."
—AMY BLOOM, author of Away and Where the God of Love Hangs Out

"In Three Stages of Amazement, Carol Edgarian gives you a brilliant and irresistible look at married life and happiness and the very human limitations of both. She's a wonderful writer."
—JAMES SALTER, author of Light Years and A Sport and a Pastime

“The Best and the Brightest—Good People Make All the Right Moves.  And still, things fall apart.

Surely you know Lena Rusch and Charlie Pepper: They’re the seemingly perfect 40-ish Bay Area couple, the ones with the nice house, the cute kid, the interesting careers—and the fun sex life, thanks to the “bells and whistles: we’re told Charlie provides in bed.  Lena and Charlie are so familiar, so knowable, that it’s sometimes hard to remember they’re fictional characters at the center of a lovely, resonant novel, Three Stages of Amazement (Scribner), by Narrative magazine editor Carol Edgarian.  So guess what? The Rusch-Pepper union turns out to be not so perfect after all, but not for any big, topical reason—okay, Charlie, a doctor, is having trouble getting funding for his latest medical invention and Lena has lately been hearing form her dashing, successful ex-boyfriend—but because, well, marriage, and life, are just plain complicated.  Edgarian’s plot—about Lena’s rich old venture capitalist uncle out to interfere with (or is it to help?) Charlie’s business—is unique; but everything else in this story (the way long-married people talk, the conflicted emotions we have for family) feels universal.  Not to mention generous and graceful and true.
—SARA NELSON, O Magazine, March 2011

"Holy shit is this a beautiful book....If you want a novel which’ll have you caring and believing and breathing deep and hard because of what happens to the folks therein, you’ve now found what you’ve been looking for."  Weston Cutter, Corduroy Books

“It’s a great heart in a great author who loves the villains in a story while fully imbuing the heroes with human flaws and hungers… Seldom have such a true portraits of our era, or any era, appeared.”

—RICK BASS, author of Where the Sea Used to Be and Why I Came West