The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
"The Immortalists" is a beautifully written novel that examines the complexities of life and death, the choices we make, and the consequences of those choices. The story is set in the summer of 1969 in New York City and follows the Gold siblings - Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon, who become curious after hearing of a mystic woman who can predict the date of anyone's death. They decide to visit the woman, and each of them is given a different date of death. This knowledge sets each of their lives on a different course.
The novel is divided into four parts, each focusing on one of the siblings. The first part of the book focuses on Varya, the eldest Gold sibling, who is given the latest date of death, which is decades away. Varya becomes obsessed with lengthening her life and becomes a scientist who studies aging and longevity. As she gets older, Varya becomes more and more isolated, and she struggles to connect with the people around her.
In the second part of the book, the focus shifts to Daniel, the second-oldest sibling. He is given a date of death that is not too far away, and this knowledge leads him to live a reckless and hedonistic life. Daniel moves to San Francisco and becomes a dancer in a gay nightclub. He falls in love with a man named Eddie, but their relationship is complicated by Daniel's fear of death.
The third part of the book follows Klara, the third-oldest sibling. She is given a date of death that is not too far away, and this knowledge leads her to pursue her dream of becoming a magician. Klara becomes known for her daring and dangerous stunts, and she attracts the attention of a wealthy man named Raj. However, Klara's obsession with death and her belief that she can cheat it ultimately leads to her downfall.
The final part of the book focuses on Simon, the youngest Gold sibling. He is given the earliest date of death, which is just a few years away. Simon moves to San Francisco with Daniel and becomes a dancer in the same nightclub. He falls in love with a man named Robert, but their relationship is complicated by Simon's fear of death and his desire to live life to the fullest before his time is up.
Throughout the book, the theme of death is explored in various ways. The Gold siblings all react differently to the knowledge of their dates of death, and their reactions reveal a lot about their personalities and their relationships with each other. The book also explores the idea of fate and whether or not we can change our destiny. Each of the Gold siblings struggles with this question in their own way.
Chloe Benjamin's writing is exquisite, and she expertly weaves together the stories of the Gold siblings in a way that is both captivating and thought-provoking. The characters are well-developed and relatable, and their journeys are both heart-wrenching and inspiring. "The Immortalists" is a novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it, as it invites us to consider our own mortality and the choices we make in life. It is a book that is sure to resonate with readers of all ages and backgrounds.