The Immortalists

The Immortalists

by Chloe Benjamin

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A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • Real Simple • Marie Claire • New York Public Library • LibraryReads • The Skimm • Lit Hub • Lit Reactor 


“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 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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735213197
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/09/2018
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,498
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Chloe Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Immortalists. Her first novel, The Anatomy of Dreams, received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was long listed for the 2014 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the M.F.A. in fiction at the University of Wisconsin. She lives with her husband in Madison, WI.

Read an Excerpt


When Saul dies, Simon is in physics class, drawing concentric circles meant to represent the rings of an electron shell but which to Simon mean nothing at all. With his daydreaming and his dyslexia, he has never been a good student, and the purpose of the electron shell—the orbit of electrons around an atom’s nucleus—escapes him. In this moment, his father bends over in the crosswalk on Broome Street while walking back from lunch. A taxi honks to a stop; Saul sinks to his knees; the blood drains from his heart. His death makes no more sense to Simon than the transfer of electrons from one atom to another: both are there one moment, and gone the next.

Varya drives down from college at Vassar, Daniel from SUNY Binghamton. None of them understand it. Yes, Saul was stressed, but the city’s worst moments—the fiscal crisis, the blackout—are finally behind them. The unions saved the city from bankruptcy, and New York is finally looking up. At the hospital, Varya asks about her father’s last moments. Had he been in any pain? Only briefly, says the nurse. Did he speak? No one can say that he did. This should not surprise his wife and children, who are used to his long silences—and yet Simon feels cheated, robbed of a final memory of his father, who remains as close-lipped in death as he was in life.

Because the next day is Shabbat, the funeral takes place on Sunday. They meet at Congregation Tifereth Israel, the conservative synagogue of which Saul was a member and patron. In the entryway, Rabbi Chaim gives each Gold a pair of scissors for the kriah.

“No. I won’t do it,” says Gertie, who must be walked through each step of the funeral as if through the customs process of a country she never meant to visit. She wears a sheath dress that Saul made for her in 1962: sturdy black cotton, with a dart-fitted waistline, front button closure, and detachable belt. “You can’t make me,” she adds, her eyes darting between Rabbi Chaim and her children, who have all obediently slit their clothes above the heart, and though Rabbi Chaim explains that it is not he who can make her but God, it seems that God can’t, either. In the end, the rabbi gives Gertie a black ribbon to cut, and she takes her seat with wounded victory.

Simon has never liked coming here. As a child, he thought the synagogue was haunted, with its rough, dark stone and dank interior. Worse were the services: the unending silent devotion, the fervent pleas for the restoration of Zion. Now Simon stands before the closed casket, air ­circulating through the slit in his shirt, and realizes he’ll never see his ­father’s face again. He pictures Saul’s distant eyes and demure, almost feminine smile. Rabbi Chaim calls Saul magnanimous, a person of character and fortitude, but to Simon he was a decorous, timid man who skirted conflict and trouble—a man who seemed to do so little out of passion that it was a wonder he had ever married Gertie, for no one would have viewed Simon’s mother, with her ambition and pendulum moods, as a pragmatic choice.

After the service, they follow the pallbearers to Mount Hebron Cemetery, where Saul’s parents were buried. Both girls are weeping—Varya silently, Klara as loudly as her mother—and Daniel seems to be holding himself together out of nothing more than stunned obligation. But Simon finds himself unable to cry, even as the casket is lowered into the earth. He feels only loss, not of the father he knew but of the person that Saul might have been. At dinner, they sat at opposite ends of the table, lost in private thought. The shock came when one of them glanced up, and their eyes caught—an accident, but one that joined their separate worlds like a hinge before someone looked away again.

Now, there is no hinge. Distant though he was, Saul had allowed each Gold to assume their separate roles: he the breadwinner, Gertie the general, Varya the obedient oldest, Simon the unburdened youngest. If their father’s body—his cholesterol lower than Gertie’s, his heart nothing if not steady—had simply stopped, what else could go wrong? Which other laws might warp? Varya hides in her bunk. Daniel is twenty, barely a man, but he greets guests and lays out food, leads prayers in Hebrew. Klara, whose portion of the bedroom is messier than everyone else’s, scrubs the kitchen until her biceps hurt. And Simon takes care of Gertie.

This is not their usual arrangement, for Gertie has always babied Simon more than the others. She wanted, once, to be an intellectual; she lay beside the fountain in Washington Square Park reading Kafka and Nietzsche and Proust. But at nineteen, she met Saul, who had joined his father’s business after high school, and she was pregnant by twenty. Soon Gertie withdrew from New York University, where she was on scholarship, and moved into an apartment mere blocks from Gold’s Tailor and Dressmaking, which Saul would inherit when his parents retired to Kew Gardens Hills.

Shortly after Varya was born—far sooner than Saul thought necessary, and to his embarrassment—Gertie became the receptionist at a law firm. At night, she was still their formidable captain. But in the morning, she put on a dress and applied rouge from a little round box before depositing the children at Mrs. Almendinger’s, after which she exited the building with as much lightness as she had ever been capable. When Simon was born, though, Gertie stayed home for nine months instead of five, which turned into eighteen. She carried him everywhere. When he cried, she did not respond with bullish frustration but nuzzled him and sang, as if nostalgic for an experience she had always resented because she knew she would not repeat it. Shortly after Simon’s birth, while Saul was at work, she went to the doctor’s office and returned with a small glass pill bottle—Enovid, it readthat she kept in the back of her underwear drawer.

“Si-mon!” she calls now, in a rich long blast like a foghorn’s. “Hand me that,” she might say, lying in bed and pointing to a pillow just past her feet. Or, in a low, ominous tone: “I have a sore; I’ve been lying too long in this bed,” and though Simon internally recoils, he examines the thick wedge of her heel. “That isn’t a sore, Ma,” he replies. “It’s a blister.” But by then she has moved on, asking him to bring her the Kaddish, or fish and chocolate from the shiva platter delivered by Rabbi Chaim.

Simon might think Gertie takes pleasure in commanding him, if not for the way she weeps at night—snuffled, so her children don’t hear, though Simon does—or the times he sees her curled fetal on the bed she shared with Saul for two decades, looking like the teenager she was when she met him. She sits shiva with a devoutness Simon did not know she could muster, for Gertie has always believed in superstition more than any God. She spits three times when a funeral goes by, throws salt if the shaker falls over, and never passed a cemetery while pregnant, which required the family to endure constant rerouting between 1956 and 1962. Each Friday, she observes the Sabbath with effortful patience, as if the Sabbath is a guest she can’t wait to get rid of. But this week, she wears no makeup. She avoids jewelry and leather shoes. As if in penitence for the failed kriah, she wears her black sheath day and night, ­ignoring the crust of brisket drippings on one thigh. Because the Golds own no wooden stools, she sits on the floor to recite the Kaddish and even tries to read the book of Job, squinting as she holds the Tanakh up to her face. When she sets it down, she appears wild-eyed and lost, like a child in search of her own parents, and then comes the call—“Si-mon!”—for something tangible: fresh fruit or pound cake, a window opened for air or closed against draft, a blanket, a washcloth, a candle.

When enough guests have assembled for a minyan, Simon helps her into a new dress and house slippers, and she emerges to pray. They’re joined by Saul’s longtime employees: the bookkeepers; the seamstresses; the pattern makers; the salesmen; and Saul’s junior partner, Arthur ­Milavetz, a reedy, beakish man of thirty-two.

As a child, Simon loved to visit his father’s shop. The bookkeepers gave him paper clips to play with, or pieces of scrap fabric, and Simon was proud to be Saul’s son—it was clear, by the reverence with which the staff treated him and by his large windowed office, that he was someone important. He bounced Simon on one knee as he demonstrated how to cut patterns and sew samples. Later, Simon accompanied him to fabric houses, where Saul selected the silks and tweeds that would be fashionable next season, and to Saks Fifth Avenue, whose latest styles he purchased to make knockoffs at the shop. After work, Simon was allowed to stay while the men played hearts or sat in Saul’s office with a box of cigars, debating the teachers’ strike and the sanitation strike, the Suez Canal and the Yom Kippur War.

All the while, something loomed larger, closer, until Simon was forced to see it in all its terrible majesty: his future. Daniel had always planned to be a doctor, which left one son—Simon, impatient and uncomfortable in his skin, let alone in a double-breasted suit. By the time he was a teenager, the women’s clothing bored him and the wools made him itch. He resented the tenuousness of Saul’s attention, which he sensed would not last his departure from the business, if such a thing were even possible. He bristled at Arthur, who was always at his father’s side, and who treated Simon like a helpful little dog. Most of all, he felt something far more confusing: that the shop was Saul’s true home, and that his employees knew him better than his children ever did.

Today, Arthur brings three deli platters and a tray of smoked fish. He bends his long, swanlike neck to kiss Gertie’s cheek.

“What will we do, Arthur?” she asks, her mouth in his coat.

“It’s terrible,” he says. “It’s horrific.”

Tiny droplets of spring rain perch on Arthur’s shoulders and on the lenses of his horn-rimmed glasses, but his eyes are sharp.

“Thank God for you. And for Simon,” Gertie says.

On the last night of shiva, while Gertie sleeps, the siblings take to the attic. They’re worn down, washed out, with bleary, baggy eyes and curdled stomachs. The shock hasn’t faded; Simon cannot imagine it ever fading. Daniel and Varya sit on an orange velvet couch, stuffing spurting from the armrests. Klara takes the patchwork ottoman that once belonged to now-dead Mrs. Blumenstein. She pours bourbon into four chipped teacups. Simon hunches cross-legged on the floor, swirling the amber liquid with his finger.

“So, what’s the plan?” he asks, glancing at Daniel and Varya. “You’re heading out tomorrow?”

Daniel nods. He and Varya will catch early trains back to school. They’ve already said goodbye to Gertie and promised to return in a month, when their exams are finished.

“I can’t take any more time off if I’m going to pass,” Daniel says. “Some of us”—he nudges Klara with his foot—“worry about that sort of thing.”

Klara’s senior year ends in two weeks, but she’s already told her family she won’t walk at graduation. (“All those penguins, shuffling around in unison? It’s not me.”) Varya is studying biology and Daniel hopes to be a military doctor, but Klara doesn’t want to go to college. She wants to do magic.

She’s spent the past nine years under the tutelage of Ilya Hlavacek, an aging vaudevillian and sleight-of-hand magician who is also her boss at Ilya’s Magic & Co. Klara first learned of the shop at the age of nine, when she purchased The Book of Divination from Ilya; now, he is as much a father to her as Saul was. A Czech immigrant who came of age between the World Wars, Ilya—seventy-nine, stooped and arthritic, with a troll’s tuft of white hair—tells fantastic tales of his stage years: one he spent touring the Midwest’s grimiest dime museums, his card table mere feet from rows of pickled human heads; the Pennsylvania circus tent in which he successfully vanished a brown Sicilian donkey named Antonio as one thousand onlookers burst with applause.

But over a century has passed since the Davenport brothers invoked spirits in the salons of the wealthy and John Nevil Maskelyne made a woman levitate in London’s Egyptian Theatre. Today, the luckiest of America’s magicians manage theatrical special effects or work elaborate shows in Las Vegas. Almost all of them are men. When Klara visited Marinka’s, the oldest magic shop in the country, the young man at the register glanced up with disdain before directing her to a bookshelf marked Witchcraft. (“Bastard,” Klara muttered, though she did buy Demonology: The Blood Summonings just to watch him squirm.)

Besides, Klara is drawn less to stage magicians—the bright lights and evening clothes, the wire-rigged levitations—than to those who ­perform in more modest venues, where magic is handed from person to person like a crumpled dollar bill. On Sundays, she watches the street magician Jeff Sheridan at his usual post by the Sir Walter Scott statue in Central Park. But could she really make a living that way? New York is changing, anyway. In her neighborhood, the hippies have been replaced by hard-core kids, the drugs by harder drugs. Puerto Rican gangs hold court at Twelfth and A. Once, Klara was held up by men who probably would have done worse if Daniel had not happened to walk by at exactly that moment.

Varya ashes into an empty teacup. “I can’t believe you’re still going to leave. With Ma like this.”

“That was always the plan, Varya. I was always going to leave.”

“Well, sometimes plans change. Sometimes they have to.”

Klara raises an eyebrow. “So why don’t you change yours?”

“I can’t. I have exams.”

Varya’s hands are rigid, her back straight. She has always been uncompromising, sanctimonious, someone who walks between the lines as if on a balance beam. On her fourteenth birthday, she blew out all but three candles, and Simon, just eight, stood on his tiptoes to do the rest. Varya yelled at him and cried so intensely that even Saul and Gertie were puzzled. She has none of Klara’s beauty, no interest in clothing or makeup. Her one indulgence is her hair. It is waist length and has never been colored or dyed, not because Varya’s natural color—the dusty, light brown of dirt in summer—is in any way remarkable; she simply prefers it as it has always been. Klara dyes her hair a vivid, drugstore red. Whenever she does her roots, the sink looks bloody for days.

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The Immortalists 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Bookaholic_Cindy More than 1 year ago
I don't usually talk about the story much when reviewing since the book blurb covers it. But this book deserves more than just I liked it, why I did, why I disliked it, etc. I saw quite a few DNF and 1 star reviews because of a portion of the book. One section doesn't make a book! It entitles the entire novel. What if you were a child in 1969 and went to a fortune teller who told you the date of your death? How would it affect your life? This is what the four Gold children do and we follow them through the years after this incident. The two youngest, Simon and Kharla, leave for San Francisco before Simon is of legal age to follow their dreams. Warning: if gay sex scenes bother you, remember this is when the Aids epidemic first began and Simon is gay. Don't give up on the book because of that! We follow both of their experiences, Simon as a club dancer and Kharla as a magician. While the two older siblings are back at home with their mother, leading more ordinary lives than their siblings. But are they really just ordinary lives? Once told the date of your death, would you ever forget it? When I first started the book, honestly, I wondered if the whole book was filled with sex scenes. And that is why I would hate for someone to miss out on such an interesting novel because of that. But as the book progressed with each family member, it told each of their stories. I have to say, I truly enjoyed this book and thought the author did an excellent job at character development! You'll grow attached to the Gold family and after my iffy beginning, I grew to love Simon the best. Not everyone will agree with me, but that's why we write these reviews. And this is my opinion. I found this to be a touching story of the lives of 4 children growing up and how different, yet the same we all are. My thanks to the author for starting my year off with such a well written novel. * I was provided an ARC to read from the publisher and NetGalley. It was my decision to read and review this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is not an uplifting read. Overrated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit contrived, but it did show the power of self-fulfilling prophecies. Ending was a bit abrupt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the siblings & the style of writing, but after reading the stories of two of them and part of the third, I told myself that I should stop -- too depressing. I encourage the author to continue writing (she is talented) but to provide more hope interwoven with the sadness -- or even a whole lot of happiness if it can be worked into the tale. Sadness for its own sake is off-putting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Benjamin's book will fill you with many emotions, both good and bad, but you won't want to put it down because it will remind you that none of us has anything more than today. So you'd better make the most of what life offers you and take advantage of the love of family and friends who count on you to keep moving forward. Nice job, Chloe!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am very glad that I read this book! It was extremely thought provoking. The character & plot development was excellent. I loved the historical throwback as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like how the story tells about each sibling but that it all comes back together at the end. Wasn’t thrilled with the ending tho.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so good. The relationship the children have and how it changes after they meet the old woman, it's such a change. And knowing when you will die is not always good and not always bad. Great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different kind of family saga with an ending I didn't see coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Took me through all life phases of siblinghood and the blessings of family love.
Tracey_L More than 1 year ago
I've been very lucky to have had the opportunity to read three amazing new releases in this first week of 2018. The Immortalists is one of those three and am I ever so glad it was. First off, I have to correct an earlier impression I had - in pictures the cover looked ok, but nothing exceptional. In person it's absolutely gorgeous and I've found myself petting the book, which isn't a thing I do, but there it is! But that's just the outside, and what counts is the story, and it's one hell of a story. What would you do if you knew the date of your death? That's the journey we are taken on with the four Gold siblings, and it's a journey of immense proportions. This is a story that grabs you and doesn't let go, and for me that was just fine because I didn't want it to end. The characters were real and the incidents were believable and I recognized so many places described. It was a wonderful journey that I'm thrilled to have taken. I was provided a copy of this book by Bookish First in exchange for an honest review.
Go4Jugular 5 days ago
This novel is essentially four novellas linked by the shared history of four siblings. At the outset of the story they set out together to find a fortune teller who, once found, tells each of them separately the supposed day they will die. Each story then looks at how the siblings individually live their lives informed by that knowledge. There is a supernatural element, which is explored only in cursory fashion, and that's fine, as it's part of the mystery of the story. It's well written, with complex characters and a nicely paced plot, and it's interesting, and a little philosophical, to see the various ways in which one could use that information in making life choices.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Sad, Tragic and Thought Provoking had heard so much about The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin when it was first introduced. Sometimes when a book receives so much hype, I tend to be disappointed but I was not disappointed at all with this one. I listened to the audio CD version read by Maggie Hoffman and enjoyed it very much. The story began on New York City's Lower East Side in 1969. I remember frequenting some of the same streets as a young girl when I accompanied my parents on shopping excursions and an occasional lunch. The Gold family, a religious Jewish family, lived there with their four children. Varya was the oldest at 13, Daniel came next at 11, Klara was 9 and the youngest was Simon who was 7. One hot summer day, the children were bored of being cooped up in their apartment so Daniel told his siblings that he had heard about a traveling psychic who could predict the exact date a person would die. The children all agree that it would be fun to meet her and see what she had to say. They pooled their money, agreeing that if they got to meet her they should pay her something. Daniel led his siblings to the address where the psychic lived. The psychic agreed to meet with the children but she insisted that she meet with each child alone. One by one, the children went into the psychic's apartment and came out trembling and upset. The psychic had told each child the exact date they would die. That information and experience haunted the children into adulthood and for the remainder of each of their lives. They never shared the information with their parents or with each other. As the book progresses, each child's story is revealed. Simon, the youngest, runs away from home with his sister Klara. The two settle in San Francisco where Simon reveals his sexual preferences. Admitting to Klara that he is gay he fits right into the scene in San Francisco during the 1980's and the beginning of the Aids epidemic. Klara becomes a magician, a life long dream of hers. Daniel studies medicine and becomes an army doctor and Varya becomes a research scientist using monkeys to study longevity. Throughout each of the Gold siblings' lives, the fortune tellers predictions were never far from their thoughts. They drifted apart from each other and yet they remained distantly close. Their mother, Gertie Gold, remained a constant influence on the Gold children throughout her life as did the memories of their father. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin was sad, tragic and thought provoking. Each one of the four Gold siblings allowed the prophesies of the fortune teller to almost dictate how they led their lives. The stigma of the knowledge of knowing when they were supposed to die prevented them to live their lives in more positive and meaningful ways. I really enjoyed listening to The Immortalists and recommend it highly.
Mel-Loves-Books 11 months ago
“‘Nobody picks their life. I sure didn’t.’ Gertie laughs, a scrape. ‘Here’s what happens: you make choices and then they make choices. Your choices make choices.’” I really wanted to enjoy The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, but the book mainly just made me sad. The premise is that four siblings visit a fortune teller as children and are each told separately the date on which they will die. It then follows each sibling at intervals until the time of their death. I did like the authors writing, and the characters she created were interesting which is what kept me reading. But it felt like the book just continued to get more and more sad and by the end it felt like the whole thing was without purpose. The ending felt very flat and seemed like a bit missed opportunity to me. I am left feeling empty and disappointed. I give the book 2.5 stars.
JMTJTC More than 1 year ago
"She understands, too, the loneliness of parenting, which is the loneliness of memory—to know that she connects a future unknowable to her parents with a past unknowable to her child." Genre: Magical Realism Number of Pages: 346 Perspective: Third Person Alternating Location: New York and San Francisco The Immortalists follows four siblings. As children, they visit a psychic who tells them the exact days of their deaths. That knowledge shapes their entire lives and takes them on diverging paths. TL;DR: Sad, strange, and better off as a short story.
sweetbabyjane More than 1 year ago
I found this book disturbing but yet wonderful. It's a sad book that's for sure and it sure had me thinking about death a lot and how these siblings found out from a fortune teller when they were children. I liked how every 100 pages or more it switched to another sibling so you knew what there lives were like. They all lived different lives in different places. Some parts of their lives were predictable and some I was surprised of how things turned out. This book will stick in my mind for a long time. Just a personal side note: someone left this in our Little Free Library and I'm glad she did since I wanted to read this since it came out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It takes a little bit to get into the book but once you are just grabs you. The story of 4 siblings each finding the answer to the answer to the most asked question ever...and then the story around how each deals with their knowledge. I felt some of the storyline was left open...but overall an interesting read.
Leo Carney More than 1 year ago
The Immortalists follow the lives of the Gold siblings: Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya after they are told the exact date of their deaths from a mysterious woman. Each sibling lives their life differently as their death-days approach, showcasing the power of perceived destiny. This book not only had amazing characters but an interlocking life-plot between the siblings. It ensures great pacing and overall intrigue! You may not agree with all the siblings and how they live their lives, but the story is set up so that you may empathize with at least one of them. In a way, this book mirrors life and the various people in it with their passions, faith, and love. This book has captured me from the beginning, and I will continue to rave about my newest obsession.
MamaHendo More than 1 year ago
As a children, the Gold family did something that children shouldn't. Eleven-year old Daniel overheard a group of older boys talking about a fortuneteller, a woman who can tell you what day you will die. When he gets home he convinces his three siblings that they need to see this woman. They each set off trying to find where she lives and once they have the address the sneak off to pay her a visit. She will only allow one of them at a time into the apartment and tells each of them that they are not to discuss with anyone what she has told them. It's only years later, after their father has died, that the four Gold children bring up this day again. Each of them sharing their expiration date with one another, all but Simon, who refuses to say anything other than "young." The book then breaks off into four sections following one of the Gold children at a time as they each press on into adulthood and towards the last day of their lives. Chloe Benjamin has written vivid and beautiful characters into life. As each section comes to a close you wonder do the Gold children create the final scenes of their life, like a full-filling prophecy, because they believe their date to actually be their last or was that fortuneteller not a scam artist after-all?
BookLoverGirl39 More than 1 year ago
I really was not a fan of most of this book. There were a few good moments but most of it was either frustrating or boring. I read this for my book club and one of the only positive things I can say about it is that it provided a good discussion on whether we would really want to know the exact date of our deaths and whether knowing is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think part of what I didn't enjoy about this book is that it is more character driven than plot driven; which is always something I struggle with and ultimately find boring. You follow each of the siblings, starting with the youngest, until their death day. It showed how each of them were affected by the knowledge and how that may have swayed the decisions they made during each of their lives. I found each of the siblings to be fairly unlikable. I would not recommend this to anyone who likes more plot driven books although I think there will be people who like character driven books who will enjoy it more.
Rebecca Charlotte More than 1 year ago
I read this novel for one of my book clubs. The writing was quite beautiful with a large part of the story told using flashbacks. The book was formatted chronologically and broken up into four parts. Each part was narrated by a different sibling from youngest to oldest: first Simon, then Klara, followed by Daniel, and finally Varya. Simon and Klara were my favorite characters. What was most interesting was that the older siblings (Daniel and Varya) were more pragmatic characters who did not put much stock in the prophecy. But the younger siblings (Simon and Klara) were more dreamy and had an easier time believing the words of the fortuneteller. I would argue that because of this faith in "magic," they were able to live fuller and (in some ways) happier lives. In contrast, Daniel and Varya lived cold and lonely lives devoid of whimsy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is a fascinating study in the nature of young people faced with the truncation of their future. Most of us go through life thinking of our life as a limitless string of experiences, but for those of us who understand our mortality, it can look very different. For the young, to know their fate ahead of time is to have great power, however it can certainly be damning, as was the case here. Benjamin's writing style is gripping and beautiful, I am very much looking forward to her next work, whenever that might be. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wonders if their life is meaningless. I also love the cover art, it was what attracted me to the work in the first place.