new arrival The sale high quality Immortalists online

new arrival The sale high quality Immortalists online

new arrival The sale high quality Immortalists online

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

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.

Review

#1 Indie Next Pick
#1 LibraryReads Pick

One of...

Newsweek’s “50 Coolest Books to Read This Summer”
Good Morning America’s Best Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer”
Elle
’s “19 of the Best Books to Read This Winter”
Harper''s Bazaar’s “10 New Books to Add to Your Reading List in 2018”
Southern Living’s “Books Coming Out This Winter That We Can’t Wait to Read”
Martha Stewart Living, “On Our Bookshelf”
InStyle’s “10 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018”
Huffington Post’s “60 Books We Can''t Wait to Read in 2018”
W Magazine’s “10 Unconventional New Books About Love For Valentine''s Day”
Popsugar’s  “25 Must-Read Books for Fall”
Bustle’s “35 Most-Anticipated Fiction Books of 2018”
Nylon’s “50 Books We Can’t Wait To Read In 2018”
Goop’s “12 Books for Winter Break”
BookPage’s “Most Anticipated Fiction of 2018”
Book Riot’s “101 Books Coming Out in 2018 That You Should Mark Down Now”
HelloGiggles’ “Most Anticipated Books of 2018”
PureWow’s “20 Books We Can''t Wait to Read in 2018”
Goodreads’ “Most Anticipated Books of 2018”
Book Riot’s “Most Anticipated Books of January 2018”
TimeOut’s “Eleven New Books to Read This Month”

“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
 
“Thrilling.” Marie Claire

“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

“Compelling.” InStyle 

“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

Chloe Benjamin is the author of The Immortalists, a New York Times bestseller, and The Anatomy of Dreams. A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, LibraryReads favorite, and #1 Indie Next pick, The Immortalists was named a best book of 2018 by NPR, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and others. The Anatomy of Dreams received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Originally from San Francisco, CA, Chloe is a graduate of Vassar College and the M.F.A. in fiction at the University of Wisconsin. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. She lives with her husband in Madison, WI.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1.


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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4.1 out of 54.1 out of 5
5,121 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

sb-lynn
5.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
This will be on my my best-of-the year list. Good choice for book clubs.
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2017
Brief summary and review, no spoilers. 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... See more
Brief summary and review, no spoilers.

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.
593 people found this helpful
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Gaetanina
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Close the book and walk away :(
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2018
The worst book I''ve read in my 37 years of life. Graphic sex, boring slow parts and I couldn''t even get through it all. I don''t even know anyone that is want to give this to.
120 people found this helpful
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Lisa P. Benwitz
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
VERY MILD SPOILERS INCLUDED: Beautifully written, but ultimately too depressing for me
Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2018
I give this book four stars because it was beautifully written - but I have to say, I feel like the blurbs completely misrepresented what the story was actually about. While it certainly kept me turning the pages and wondering what I would do if I knew my date of death... See more
I give this book four stars because it was beautifully written - but I have to say, I feel like the blurbs completely misrepresented what the story was actually about. While it certainly kept me turning the pages and wondering what I would do if I knew my date of death (although I would never, ever, EVER want to know), I found it dark and depressing and very, very, very sad. Even the happiest outcome was still sad beyond words. The book''s biggest message, however, is one I absolutely agree with: WORDS HAVE POWER.
131 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sad story
Reviewed in the United States on January 30, 2018
Good story telling, different, intriguing type of plot, not a cheerful read. Characters that became unlikable and tragic because they wasted the life that was given to them in. One was reckless and selfish, another possibly mentally ill which results in tragedy,... See more
Good story telling, different, intriguing type of plot, not a cheerful read. Characters that became unlikable and tragic because they wasted the life that was given to them in. One was reckless and selfish, another possibly mentally ill which results in tragedy, another boring but doing something absurd and stupid, ending in an unbelievable tragedy, and the last with severe mental illness. Portions of story that were overly graphic and disturbing, but unnecessary to the plot, such as animal cruelty and sex scenes, took aware from the story. Overall extremely despressing.
140 people found this helpful
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Amanda M.
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Mediocre at Best
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2018
Extremely disappointing. The first few chapters of the book lay out the fate of all four siblings, which removes any suspense you may have been expecting, and the storyline just doesn''t draw you in. I also found it very hard to relate to the characters. Plus, there was... See more
Extremely disappointing. The first few chapters of the book lay out the fate of all four siblings, which removes any suspense you may have been expecting, and the storyline just doesn''t draw you in. I also found it very hard to relate to the characters. Plus, there was really no need for the numerous gay sexual encounters to be described in such explicit graphic detail.
68 people found this helpful
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Anne Zirkle
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Provocative premise, poorly executed
Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2018
I really wanted to like this novel after all the hype but it just didn''t come close to being a book I would recommend. The premise of finding out the date you would die was so promising! But the author failed to deliver in so many ways. The characters, Daniel in particular,... See more
I really wanted to like this novel after all the hype but it just didn''t come close to being a book I would recommend. The premise of finding out the date you would die was so promising! But the author failed to deliver in so many ways. The characters, Daniel in particular, were not developed. The choice to divide the book into four sections with one devoted to each of the siblings could have worked so much better if the author had bothered to provide more back story for Daniel and Varya when we got to their portions of the book. Unfortunately the entire book felt contrived and I often found myself putting it down because I didn''t want to read another page. My entire book club shared the overall sentiment that this was possibly one of the worst selections we''ve ever made.

SPOILERS
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.
88 people found this helpful
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Juliet Capulet
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Explicit sexual content - read at your own risk!
Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2019
I chose this for our monthly book club pick and regretted it as soon as I got into part one. There should be a rating system for books like there is for movies because this one is completely inappropriate. Add to that the mediocre writing and the plodding storyline and it... See more
I chose this for our monthly book club pick and regretted it as soon as I got into part one. There should be a rating system for books like there is for movies because this one is completely inappropriate. Add to that the mediocre writing and the plodding storyline and it equals a disaster of a book. I wanted to love it based on the premise of knowing when you would die and what you would do with your time but just couldn''t recommend it to anyone.
44 people found this helpful
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William Capodanno
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Tale of Two Books
Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2018
It''s 1969 and the four Gold children, oldest 13 hear of a mystical lady on the Lower East Side of NY who can foretells the day one will die. "The Immortalists" is the story of these four siblings, Simon, Varya, Daniel and Klara as they grow up and come to terms with... See more
It''s 1969 and the four Gold children, oldest 13 hear of a mystical lady on the Lower East Side of NY who can foretells the day one will die. "The Immortalists" is the story of these four siblings, Simon, Varya, Daniel and Klara as they grow up and come to terms with what their "day" is. Does the knowledge of when one going to die impact the choices they make that lead to that outcome? Everyone wrestles with mortality, but what does knowing the exact day of your death due to your psychological outlook, the life choices you make?

The novel is structured around each character in the order of the year they die, earliest to latest. I loved the premise of Chloe Benjamin''s novel and was fully immersed through the first half of the book, following the lives of Simon and Klara. They were the most fully realized and developed of the characters and the existential question raised by Benjamin''s book, did knowing the date of their death lead to a set of decisions that resulted in fate being realized or was it just fate. I felt the momentum and connection with the characters started to flag midway through Daniel''s story. While there were moments of brilliance, particularly the Thanksgiving visit from Varya''s widower and daughter, there were some plot twists that were forced and left the final part of that "chapter" trite and predictable. By the end of the novel, I was a bit disappointed, for what started out with so much promise ended with a little bit of a whimper. In my mind, "The Immortalists" may have been stronger structurally if it centered on no more than three siblings instead of the four.

I''m somewhat torn between giving the book three or four stars, but lean toward four given the strength of the first half to two thirds of a tale well told about one of those timeless questions --- What if you knew exactly when you were going to die?
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Rachel G.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved it!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 6, 2018
I loved everything about this book. 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...See more
I loved everything about this book. 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.
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jkobi2011
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
new york jewry
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 25, 2018
Benjamin is an intelligent American Jewish woman desperate to succeed as a novelist . Her afterword is very revealing in that as she explains in her AFTERWORD which is entitled The RESEARCH behind the GOLDS .As she admits her mom is Episcopalian and her father is...See more
Benjamin is an intelligent American Jewish woman desperate to succeed as a novelist . Her afterword is very revealing in that as she explains in her AFTERWORD which is entitled The RESEARCH behind the GOLDS .As she admits her mom is Episcopalian and her father is ancestrally Jewish but is an atheist. The effect is that as a Christian she claims that the afterlife has particular attention whereas by contrast according to Benjamin Judaism ''IS ALMOST ENTIRELY GROUNDED IN THIS WORLD WHICH GIVES THE GOLDS,'' LIVES PARTICULAR URGENCY.'' 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.
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Alison
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Quite depressing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 14, 2018
Read for a book club. It covered a very interesting topic but the characters were flimsy and unlikable and the first half of the story quite depressing. It got more interesting with the third sibling and a possible mystery surrounding the fortune teller but this wasn’t...See more
Read for a book club. It covered a very interesting topic but the characters were flimsy and unlikable and the first half of the story quite depressing. It got more interesting with the third sibling and a possible mystery surrounding the fortune teller but this wasn’t particularly well explored, nor the character of Ruby who was probably the one likeable one in this book. I wondered if it was my dislike of the characters that made me enjoy this less but no, just didn’t get on with it which is a shame as I had high hopes.
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LM
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
easy read but not perfect
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2018
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...See more
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. 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.
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Tess
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A book of two halves
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 28, 2019
When I was halfway through this book I thought it was fantastic, absolutely loved it. However the second half for me was much weaker, felt rushed and sometimes unbelievable so I was a little disappointed when I finished it. Overall though it was enjoyable and made you...See more
When I was halfway through this book I thought it was fantastic, absolutely loved it. However the second half for me was much weaker, felt rushed and sometimes unbelievable so I was a little disappointed when I finished it. Overall though it was enjoyable and made you ponder an interesting idea. It made me want to read the authors first book to see if that was strong the whole way through. 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.
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