Revisiting Replay (Part 4)

This is the final post in a series of chapter by chapter commentaries on the novel Replay by Ken Grimwood.  To start at the beginning, check out Part 1.

Note: If you haven’t read Replay, the following may will contain spoilers.

Chapters Eighteen to Twenty

  • Pamela returns in 1975 this time; next time Jeff’s replay begins in 1976.  It’s interesting to note how Jeff & Pamela seem to be one cycle off in the time-skews they experience in each successive replay even though both have had the same number of cycles.  I always thought it would have made more sense for Pamela to have actually had one extra replay cycle to account for this.
  • Skipping ahead a bit, Jeff’s final replay starts in 1985.  Not knowing what to do for the last three years of his life without Pamela, he decides he needs to see her again even if it’s not the same version of her he’s spent so many years and so many lives with.  He tracks her down to an art museum and follows her around.
  • I had conceived but never actually wrote a section of Timely Persuasion where the narrator invisibly stalks the redheaded girl after she leaves the bar just to see what her mysterious life away from him was like.  This section of Replay always reminds me of that up until the point where Pamela unexpectedly engages Jeff in conversation.  From that point on it seems to echo the surprise of TP’s narrator’s first interaction with his father, albeit purely through coincidental hindsight.

Chapter Twenty-One

  • I don’t want to outright spoil it for people who haven’t read the book, so I’ll just say that this chapter was in my head while writing the “green black green black green black green black green black green black green” sections of TP.  The correlation is subtle, but I think it will make sense in comparison.


  • In a curious and interesting twist, the Epilogue has nothing to do with Jeff or Pamela.  Instead it’s just a single page detailing the realization of a Norwegian man that he’s replaying the years 1988-2017.  A great ending that illustrates the phenomenon will continue with others while still leaving the core questions of why and how open ended.

One final related note:  Ken Grimwood died of a sudden heart attack in 2003, eerily similar to the deaths of Jeff Winston.  A strange case of life imitating art that almost makes you wonder…

At the time of his death he was working on a sequel to Replay.  In my head the sequel picks up with the new character introduced in the original book’s epilogue and has him crossing paths with Jeff & Pamela — both of whom are now replaying the second half of their long lives from 1988-2017.  Unfortunately we’ll probably never know.

I was going to include an overarching “in memorial” type of closing here, but decided I couldn’t top this one:

Remembering Ken Grimwood

In anycase, I hope I did this amazing book justice without totally spoiling it and provided inspiration for you to read it (or, for that matter, Timely Persuasion) for either the first or the fiftieth time.

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