Tuesday, September 4, 2018

G968 Book Review of Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Name of Book: Eternal Life

Author: Dara Horn

ISBN: 978-0-393-60853-3

Publisher: W.W. Norton and Company

Type of book: Philosophy, immortality, fertility, family, children, Judaism, Roman times, marriage, modern times, bitcoin, divorce, temple sacrifices, sins, cheating, death

Year it was published: 2018


Rachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever.

But as the twenty-first century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out.

Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive.


Main characters include Rachel and Elazar. In modern times Rachel is best described as cautious as well as a bit cynical. Personally for me as well, she tended to disregard her children after her firstborn Yochanan. She is also intelligent but she is afraid of venturing out of her cocoon. In the Roman times, Rachel striked me as devoted, reckless and someone who will do whatever she can for those she loves. While she does have sense, she let passions rule over her. Elazar is Rachel's beloved from Roman times. Unfortunately he is not given a lot of time, but he seems to understand Rachel and her feelings and will do whatever he can for her be it in Roman times or modern times. Other characters included Rachel's son and granddaughter. Rachel's son, Rocky is best described as someone who is looking for a quick way to get rich or insured and he seems to not have grown up, while Hannah, Rachel's granddaughter is a scientist who wants to discover the cure for death.


Any type of immortality is bad


The story is in third person narrative from Rachel's and Elazar's points of view, although from time to a few other characters give their points of views as well. Most of the story is set in present time, but ancient times are also used, in particular when the temple still functioned before its destruction. A number of things tended to fly over my head, in particular the bitcoin subplot, but what cannot be said with words was often mentioned with emotions, which I understood as well.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Dara Horn is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of A Guide For the Perplexed,  All Other Nights, The World to Come, and In the Image, and one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children


All I can say is that I will never look at immortality the same way again. Very often, immortality gets linked to vampires and to sterility. (Look at Anne Rice's novels, or just any novels for that matter...) but this is truly an intriguing story which can be observed through multitude of sides because while the main character is immortal, she is fertile and she does age as the time goes by. Something else I find interesting is that Rachel can be seen as women throughout the last thousands of years because like women of the past, she was extremely limited by her gender and sex to be a mother and not to do anything else with her life, as sad as it sounds. She is also presented with a lot of unique challenges that someone like a vampire isn't. The story is more philosophical in nature rather than having a beginning and an ending and definitely deserves a re-read.

This was given to me for the review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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