FICTION//The Immortalists- Chloe Benjamin*

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There are some things we wish we could know, right? That we’re going to be healthy, that maybe we’ll be lucky enough to have happy and comfortable lives. But would we really want to know the date of our death? And if we did know that information, would we let it shape us?

This is the dilemma facing the Gold children, who on a sultry summer day in New York in 1969, decide to visit a woman whose speciality is telling people the day they will die. The kids, aged 7-13, all must live the rest of their lives with a nugget of information that affects the way they journey through the world: youngest child Simon runs away to San Francisco to escape his suffocating relationship with his mother; Klara becomes a magician, hiding her despair in ever more elaborate tricks; Daniel grows up to become a respected military doctor with the power to decide who goes to war; eldest child Varya dedicates her life to the study of extending life. Through it all, each sibling’s day of reckoning lingers, looming ever closer- the choice to resist or give in is always there. Through each intertwined story, there is heartbreak and hope- and the small things that link us to life and our families: a pink housecoat, a hastily scribbled note, a gold watch. This is a family pulled apart by knowledge, but brought together too. People come and go, but the Gold kids are always tied together by their visit to a fortune teller, whether they like (or believe) it or not.

Before reading, I saw a lot of hype for this book on Twitter and reviews and I think it’s a book that deserves it. I was completely drawn in (and grateful that I don’t know the date of my own demise. Although if I did, I’d probably just panic that I’d never get to read all the books in my TBR pile…) and it’s a rare book that kept me from sleeping- and I am very much about my sleep.

I’m now in the phase of post-book where I’m telling everyone I meet to read it. Including you, OK?

 

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