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The Immortalists Paperback – February 5, 2019
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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A captivating family saga."--The New York Times Book Review
"This literary family saga is perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Donna Tartt."--People Magazine (Book of the Week)
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children--four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness--sneak out to hear their fortunes.
The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel struggles to maintain security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
Both a dazzling family love story and a sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.
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“A literary page-turner...A really compelling plotline.”—The Wall Street Journal
“The only real magic here is Benjamin’s storytelling....Poignant...A testimony of love.”—The Washington Post
“[An] amazing work of fiction...A dense, yet beautifully spun and satisfying tale that spans 50 years...Spare, yet gorgeously robust prose...and every page is imbued with [Benjamin’s] obvious storytelling skill....Begin 2018 with the book that could easily retain the year’s top spot, The Immortalists is a can’t-put-down, makes-you-think tale of a not-so-average American family.”—Associated Press
“The book spans decades, touching on the AIDs crisis, 9/11, race, and marriage. But, at its core, it’s an examination of free will and fate.”—The New Yorker
“The reader will likely be thoroughly taken by the world of the Gold siblings, in all its shades of brilliant color. It's not a totally comfortable realm, since we know all too well how this tale's going to end, but getting there is lovely.”—NPR.org
“Search no further for your inaugural 2018 book club pick.”—Elle
“A compelling family drama.”—Esquire
“Centered on four siblings and spanning decades, The Immortalists asks a seemingly simple yet unimaginably complex question: If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? The search for the answer makes for a sprawling, enchanting family saga.”—Entertainment Weekly (Must-List)
“Chloe Benjamin's family saga deftly explores destiny versus choice.”—US Weekly
“A family saga about love, destiny, living life and making choices that will cause readers to consider what to do with the time given them on this earth.”—Huffington Post
“Benjamin’s tale is propulsive and colorful, capturing moving truths about the way we handle the knowledge that we all eventually die....The premise...is brilliant and simple.”—Chicago Tribune
“Chloe Benjamin is a novelist to watch....The Immortalists weaves together philosophy and fortune-telling, to great effect....As deft and dizzying as a high-wire act...the reader is beguiled with unexpected twists and stylish, crisp prose....Unwittingly, this ambitious, unorthodox tale may change you too.”—The Economist
“As you follow [the siblings] toward their fates in this magical family saga, you’ll appreciate the unexpected in your own life.”—Redbook
“A moving novel about the deep bonds of family.”—Southern Living
“Beautifully written and intricately detailed, it's impossible to put down and sure to be one of those books you've got to re-read again and again.”—Popsugar
“Intriguing premise...Beautifully written story.”—AARP
“Suspenseful, compassionate, inquisitive, and wholly captivating.”—Bustle
"Continually ratcheting up the tension...A Jewish-American family saga.”—Newsday
"[A] captivating family saga...Each of these four narrative strands is a mini marvel, but together they form a hauntingly beautiful tapestry of familial love and loss."—Lit Hub
“Magical...There are moments as taut as a thriller, where time disappears as you turn pages; and passages of quiet compassion.”—The Seattle Times
"[A] gorgeous, sweeping novel."—American Banker
“[Benjamin] casts a spell with...her affecting family saga.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A sweeping epic that will enchant you from cover to cover.”—Paste Magazine
“A page turner, as addictive as it is emotionally searing...Captivating, moving and addictive. It makes you think, feel, fall in love, and question how to best live your days left on earth.”—Lambda Literary
“An intriguing setup for an immersive family saga.”—Toronto Star
“Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists is the very best kind of literary thriller, its suspense deriving from characters we care about deeply and surprises that feel embedded in our shared humanity. As profound a meditation on destiny as readers are likely to encounter.”—Richard Russo
“For someone who loves stories about brothers and sisters, as I do, The Immortalists is about as good as it gets. A memorable and heartfelt look at what might happen to a family who knows too much. It's amazing how good this book is.”—Karen Joy Fowler
“A beautiful, compassionate, and even joyful novel. Chloe Benjamin has written an inspiring book that makes you think hard about what you want to do with the time you’re given. This is not really a book about dying—it's a book about how to live.”—Nathan Hill, author of The Nix
About the Author
- Publisher : G.P. Putnam's Sons; Reprint edition (February 5, 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 073521509X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0735215092
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.49 x 0.9 x 8.24 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #24,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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This story starts off in New York in 1969 when we meet the four Gold children - Varya is 13, Daniel is 11, Klara is 9 and Simon is 7. They come from a religious Jewish family and they are close to both mother and father.
The novel begins as the children have heard about a psychic that may be nearby who supposedly can predict the date that someone is going to die. Varya, the most cautious of the four kids is hesitant to go but agrees to go with them and they do manage to find this woman. They meet with her individually, and she tells them each the day they will die.
It is unclear, at the start, whether or not the children have shared this information with each other. We know that some of the kids are upset, in particular young Simon, but even Klara and Daniel seem taken aback. We do find out right away that Varya has been told she will have a very long life.
The book is then divided into four different sections, which follow the lives of each of the four children. We find out what happens to each one and whether or not the psychic was right about the date of their death. We obviously don't find this out until their various section ends.
I really don't want to give away more of the plot other than to say that we gradually learn what each of the children were told, and more importantly, we do learn how the prophecy may affected their lives.
This book was exceptional for me for several reasons. I read a lot of books and have to say that this one was really unique; what a clever plot idea - exploring how the knowledge (or even the fear of it being true) of one's date of death can affect how one lives their life and whether this knowledge becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy or whether it can easily be changed by one's own choices and free-will.
I feel like I am not doing this novel justice by this short review. The book really does explore so many different aspects of life such as questions about living life to your fullest and taking chances or instead playing it safe and living longer. Not easy answers really, although the book can be a little heavy-handed to the latter in one case.
So really, the book and each chapter or section pose different answers or views to the question of whether or not it's better to know when our lives will end and just what consequences that could ensue. It's really an intriguing question and to her credit the author does not throw out a one-for-all answer.
Each of the Gold children have unique personalities, told well, and this book was really hard to put down once I started it. There were a few moments where I didn't necessarily buy into what was happening and thought perhaps the author was pushing the action to fit the plot but the pluses so overwhelmed any negatives.
Recommended. I think this would make a great selection for book clubs.
Simon's death was completely predictable. He was one of the few characters who was developed to the point that I felt like I knew him a bit and his motivations. I found it interesting that his sexual activities were the only ones described in graphic detail despite the fact that all of the characters had romantic liaisons. It felt as if the author chose to be graphic for Simon purely for shock value and to make some readers uncomfortable.
Klara and Daniel both meet their ends in ways that felt so contrived. Daniel's section of the book in particular felt like a complete cop out by the author with insufficient character development and an implausible ending.
By the time I reached Varya's section I really didn't care what happened to any character in the book: I just wanted to be finished reading it in time for my book club meeting. Her story had some poignant moments but still fell short.
Top reviews from other countries
On one level, it’s just a brilliant family story about four siblings and their relationships, lives and deaths. But it has a very clever hook - as children, they see a fortune teller who gives them all the dates of their deaths.
What they do with this information - how it affects their lives and the decisions they make, how far it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - is the rest of the novel. It gets to the heart of issues about what makes a ‘good life’ whilst still being a hugely gripping family story.
THIS IS NONSENSE BUT IS UNDERSTANDABLE BECAUSE her FATHER had MARRIED OUT no RABBI would bother to
explain the essence of Judaism to her so all she is left with is some memories from second -generation of HOLOCAUST survivors which give a fragmentary view of Judaism and probably some chicken -soup invitations on Friday nights. it is when she writes in her VARYA SECTION about research on PRIMATES where the conflict between
animal experiments for the purpose of advances in medicine that BENJAMIN becomes very interesting. As an inexperienced novelist she compares her LUKEsituation in which she would have been a single mother with a child rejected by a biological father with LUKE's behaviour towards Asher. Benjamin at this point does not give either mother or son the words to transmit to her readers which will make her novel unforgettable.
If she can work with a playwright so as in the final ACT of a play the audience goes out in the evening with some words resounding in their psyche.
The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
Each section tells of one of the siblings lives from that moment on and how the knowledge affects them. Some are stronger and more interesting that others, there were a couple of characters whose actions made no sense whatsoever but overall an easy read and despite the subject, enjoyable as well.
The story has 2 levels - firstly its a book about family; how four siblings grow up and, in some cases, apart. The relationship between those children and the parents, how the role of parent and child reverses as time goes on.
Secondly the book is about the children finding out the dates of their deaths when they’re young, how this affects the lives they lead and plays on the idea of whether these prophecies are true, self-fulfilling or not true at all.