Ken Grimwood’s Replay– the original Groundhog’s Day?

Ken Grimwood's 1986 novel Replay is one of those books that, even though I've read it only a handful of times in the last 20 years, has always stuck with me.  In the book, Jeff Winston, a 43 year old business man, dies at his desk one day only to wake up in 1963 as his 18 year old self.  He remembers everything about this life but here he is, reliving it and making many of the same mistakes again.  He continues to live out the next 20 some years until he reaches the day that he originally died and then dies again.

Only to again wake up in 1963 as an 18 year old.

This cycle plays out over and over again but Jeff learns that he can change his life.  In one life, he uses his knowledge of the future to make a fortune playing the stocks and gambling on sports only to lose it all when he dies when he dies and wakes up in his teenage bed again.  Over the course of the book, he lives every life from being a recluse to a rich man until he starts to notice that there are elements in his life that are new, elements in the world that he's never seen before.  Could there be other people out there like him, reliving the same years and changing the world as they go along?

Grimwood's story is a lot like 1993's Groundhog Day but instead of living out the same day like Bill Murray's character in that movie, he lives out a 20 year span of this life.  It's been a long time since I've read the book but I always really liked the concept of it.  It was enough to blow my teenage mind when it first came out and it's been one of those books that I think about all the time.  I should try to dig out my copy of it this weekend and read it again.

If you're interested at all, a current printing of Replay is available on

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2 comments for “Ken Grimwood’s Replay– the original Groundhog’s Day?

  1. February 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I just finally read Replay for the first time and loved it. Had been hearing about it ever since it came out, it’s always been on my list of books to get to… and I was not disappointed. Brisk, fun read.

    Cool blog.


  2. February 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Fantastic book! Sorry to nitpick though but each time he dies and wakes up he’s a bit older. This really adds to the urgency as each of his replays are shorter and shorter. Amazing that a man given multiple lives has still makes the same mistakes and just doesn’t have enough time.

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