Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian
A Novel

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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.

About Carol Edgarian

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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 ( 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.  
Published March 8, 2011 by Scribner. 322 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Three Stages of Amazement

Kirkus Reviews

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Days after Cal and his socialite wife Ivy—think Nancy Reagan as a democrat—throw a million-dollar bash attended by Charlie and Lena, their lives fall apart too.

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The New York Times

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“Each night, as Lena closed her eyes, a symphony of bare-chested men greeted her, their deep-river voices calling for her to come over.” A few further plot developments are inevitable: Charlie must tell Lena about his business venture.

Mar 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Three Stages of Amazement: A ...

The New York Times

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While Charlie and Lena are members of the squeezed upper middle class, Cal and Ivy — both gorgeously prickly characters — are the superrich.

Mar 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Three Stages of Amazement: A ...

Publishers Weekly

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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.

Nov 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Three Stages of Amazement: A ...

New York Journal of Books

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Alas, the promise of award-winning novelist, editor and publisher Carol Edgarian’s new novel, Three Stage of Amazement, is not realized, despite the success of her first fiction book, Rise the Euphrates (1994) and the enviable reputation of her seven-year-old Narrative magazine, which Esquire a c...

Mar 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Three Stages of Amazement: A ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Their test comes at the exact moment in our recent history when the economy hit bottom, and the stakes--for Lena and Charlie, for the country--are so high you have to set the book down every now and then just to catch your breath. The other couple in this novel, the aging financial titan C...

Mar 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Three Stages of Amazement: A ...

The New Yorker

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Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Three Stages of Amazement: A ...

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