The Immortalists

The Immortalists

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?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.Their prophecies infor...

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Title:The Immortalists
Author:Chloe Benjamin
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Edition Language:English

The Immortalists Reviews

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    The Immortalists is a different sort of book. Hard to classify, and while it may not be for everybody, it was an addictive read for me. Four young siblings find out the date of each of their deaths from a gyspsy fortune teller. The reader follows each sibling as "the day" edges near, and the way the stories were arranged and overlapped between each character added further

    The Immortalists is a different sort of book. Hard to classify, and while it may not be for everybody, it was an addictive read for me. Four young siblings find out the date of each of their deaths from a gyspsy fortune teller. The reader follows each sibling as "the day" edges near, and the way the stories were arranged and overlapped between each character added further interest.

    Simon comes of age in San Francisco where he is free to be exactly who he wants to be. He lives a large and fast life. Klara becomes a magician and a mother, but has some deep internal conflict. Daniel follows what is expected of him and always seeks to protect his siblings. Varya becomes a scientist studying aging. Each storyline is fascinating in its own rite, and the pacing was exceptional except for one section for me - Varya's. It moved a little slower, but it was still necessary for the messages of the book; which by the way, were profound.

    This was a Traveling Sister read, and only two of us made it past the first section of the book. It was a pleasure reading and discussing this with Norma, especially how the book made us feel. I found this to be a special book with deep meaning. Check out the Traveling Sisters' blog for awesome reviews:

    Thank you to Chloe Benjamin, G.P. Putnam, and Edelweiss for the complimentary copy. The Immortalists releases on January 9, 2018.

  • Norma

    This was a Traveling Sisters Group Read, and only two of us were left standing in the Lush Coulee with the rest of the sisters leaving the coulee at or before the first goal of this book. Thank you to Jennifer for reading this one with me, it was a pleasure and I loved the discussion this book brought out.

    4.5 stars! This was such a memorable and interesting read that had such a unique storyline with a profound and special message within the pages of this book that had us asking ourselves so many

    This was a Traveling Sisters Group Read, and only two of us were left standing in the Lush Coulee with the rest of the sisters leaving the coulee at or before the first goal of this book. Thank you to Jennifer for reading this one with me, it was a pleasure and I loved the discussion this book brought out.

    4.5 stars! This was such a memorable and interesting read that had such a unique storyline with a profound and special message within the pages of this book that had us asking ourselves so many questions!

    What if we could find out the date of our death? Would we want to know? Would it change the way that we would live our lives?  Is it fate or do we have the ability to change our fate?

    Love life for what we have and live it to our greatest potential as if it were our last, as we never know if we are actually living our last day!

    THE IMMORTALISTS by CHLOE BENJAMIN is an interesting, entertaining, fascinating, and a different sort of read that had me feeling quite uncomfortable with some of the early scenes but then had me totally engaged and I needed to find out how this story was going to end. I thoroughly enjoyed following along the lives of these four young siblings who find out the date of each of their deaths from a gypsy fortune teller.  

    CHLOE BENJAMIN delivers a beautifully written, intriguing and captivating story here that was told in all the different perspectives of the four siblings as their date predicted by the fortune teller comes near.  My favorite sibling was Klara, and I really loved reading her section and I really enjoyed the magical aspect to her storyline.

    I would also like to mention that this book is not going to be for everyone. It's a thought-provoking book with a strong message that is for sure, but there were a couple of explicit sex scenes which I wasn’t quite expecting and the descriptions were a little uncomfortable for me to read. I wish that I would have been forewarned about them so I would have been a little prepared before reading this book.

    To sum it all up it was a fast-paced, heartfelt, powerful, thought-provoking, and a deeply moving story that was hard for me to put down.  Highly recommended with caution!!!

    Publishing Date:  January 9, 2018  

    Thank you so much to Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam’s Sons & Chloe Benjamin for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review!

    All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog:  

  • Marialyce

    5 stars for a book that makes you think. "Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come."

    What if you knew the day, the month, the year of your death? Would that make you live a different life? Would you try to compress all of life's experiences, the good, the seedy, and the bad into a short life projection? Would you languish your days knowing that you had many years in front of you and

    5 stars for a book that makes you think. "Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come."

    What if you knew the day, the month, the year of your death? Would that make you live a different life? Would you try to compress all of life's experiences, the good, the seedy, and the bad into a short life projection? Would you languish your days knowing that you had many years in front of you and there was no hurry to be all that you wanted to be?

    For the Gold children, hearing of a mysterious gypsy who was able to tell you the time of your demise, seemed an excellent way to while away a boring summer's day. So, one at a time, the children listen to the prediction, not at all aware of how that very prediction will come to affect the very lives they live. Klara, Daniel, Simon, and Vanya each learn of their date with death and the novel follows them in seeing what that knowledge does to their young lives.

    Eventually, Simon (a young gay boy) with his sister Klara (a girl fascinated with magic) run to the freedom and lifestyle of San Francisco in the 1970's. Simon embraces the gay scene and becomes immersed in one night stands, unprotected sex, up until he decides on a future that includes dance and meets a man he loves. However, it is the time of that horrible killer AIDS, and Simon ignores the warnings and continues his life with reckless abandon.

    Klara, winds up in Vegas, blurring the lines of reality often as she drinks and labels her act The Immortalist. She marries, bears a child, and of all the characters seems to await what the fortuneteller has told her.

    Daniel becomes a doctor working in the military deciding on the fitness of young men to serve. He is the one who eventually will seek out the fortuneteller and meet his destiny.

    Varya becomes a research scientist, looking into the ways to possibly prolong life. Se battles her OCD as she studies longevity in monkeys.

    All of the characters seem always sad. They seem to be adrift and possibly the knowing of their date with death has made them into the pathetic creatures they have become. As I read, I could not help but feel that the knowledge they gained condemned them in their choices, their lives, and their ability to love.

    Ms Benjamin has written a novel that makes one think. What if you knew too? Would your life be any different? Would you have grasped that burning candle at both ends and thrown every bit of caution to the wind as Klara and Simon did or would you have settled in, hunkered down, and led a life of predictability as Daniel and Varya seemed to have done? This is a book that will leave you thinking and pondering fate and death long after you have finished reading its very last word.

    Thank you to Chloe Benjamin, Putnam Publishing, and Edelweiss for an ARC of this very intriguing novel.

  • Hannah

    In 1969, four siblings visit a mystical woman who tells each one the precise date of their death. This knowledge will define each sibling's life in various ways, be it because they live their life in spite of the knowledge or because of their knowledge. It is a novel about fate and agency, about finding a place in the world, about family and selfhood, about mistakes and guilt and forgiveness.

    This book's prologue was absolutely bloody brilliant. It had me engaged immediately and I could not stop

    In 1969, four siblings visit a mystical woman who tells each one the precise date of their death. This knowledge will define each sibling's life in various ways, be it because they live their life in spite of the knowledge or because of their knowledge. It is a novel about fate and agency, about finding a place in the world, about family and selfhood, about mistakes and guilt and forgiveness.

    This book's prologue was absolutely bloody brilliant. It had me engaged immediately and I could not stop reading there (I actually read it again when I finished the book - it was that great). Chloe Benjamin had me, hook, line, and sinker. I needed to know what happens to the children and how the knowledge of their death date will influence their lives.

    Each section of the book then follows one of the children until the day they die; I especially found the first two sections following Simon and Klara to be brilliant and unputdownable. They move to San Francisco in search of a place for them: Simon is gay and Klara wants to become a stage magician instead of anything serious. Simon's story broke my heart, from his family's rejection to its inevitable conclusion; Klara's story was equally engaging and their relationship was absolutely beautifully executed. The following two sections following Daniel and finally Varya were still great but more difficult as those two were not as easily likable as their younger siblings.

    It is fitting that I read most of this book while on holiday with my sister because at its heart this novel is about siblings - and I do love stories about siblings a whole lot. Weirdly enough, I gravitated towards the younger, less responsible siblings for a change (I have talked elsewhere how I am the Bert in most of my relationships). I think this shows how brilliantly the characters were constructed and how real they felt. As such the characters and their believable interactions were the best part about this book.

    __________

    I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam in exchange for an honest review.

  • Sam

    The conceit is fabulous: in 1969, the four Gold siblings visit a fortune teller who bestows upon them the date of their death. Like a stone dropped in a pond, the repercussions reverberate through time and we follow Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon across their individual life spans, their choices and actions made in spite of and in defiance of this "foreknowledge". Chloe Benjamin's debut novel

    juggles many questions - do we create our fates or are we slaves to them, how should a

    The conceit is fabulous: in 1969, the four Gold siblings visit a fortune teller who bestows upon them the date of their death. Like a stone dropped in a pond, the repercussions reverberate through time and we follow Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon across their individual life spans, their choices and actions made in spite of and in defiance of this "foreknowledge". Chloe Benjamin's debut novel

    juggles many questions - do we create our fates or are we slaves to them, how should and how do we live our lives when faced with certain death, what wonder or magic exists for us when we continually learn and know things that take the mystery away - but at the core are these four siblings, and how they reckon with each other and themselves. This is novel of substance, darkness, a family saga, filled with ideas but nothing explored too heavily as to detract from the narrative.

    Benjamin has a quiet type of prose that sneakily pulls you in, a light touch that somehow fully renders portraits and moments and characters, and the first half of the novel in which the Gold family history and Klara and Simon take center stage is excellent: well-paced, well-plotted, and beautifully told. The complex mix of human frailty and power was fully on display in Simon's portion, and the push to live fully, for and as oneself comes into focus. Klara, the most enigmatic of the siblings, has a unique perspective and position as the titular Immortalist, an amateur magician whose true powers lie in her adept reading of the hearts and minds of others. Simon and Klara are the closest siblings, and their intertwined lives and acceptance of their fates made them extremely compelling to follow.

    The latter half of the book was somewhat less enjoyable, and the intimacy of the earlier storytelling of Klara and Simon was replaced by distance from Daniel and Varya. I believe this distance is intentional and makes thematic sense: if Simon and Klara are the two siblings who confront their mortal foreknowledge head on (perhaps to their detriment, we're left to wonder), Daniel and Varya choose to fight against it, disbelieve, try to ignore the fortune teller's pronouncement, though it insidiously inhabits their life choices and decisions as well. The major flaw for me was feeling disconnected from this portion of the narrative. Even as I can recognize that was likely Benjamin's idea to have the reader in a similar position as the two remaining Gold siblings, somewhat detached and adrift as the fortunes take hold, I did suffer from less interest, enjoyment, and emotional involvement from the reading experience. And yet, Daniel and Varya's bits have great moments, and the conclusion definitely brought the siblings back together, and some of the ideas and issues Benjamin explores are brought full circle.

    Ultimately, this book hooked me and wormed into my heart and mind. I'd give this

    rounded up to

    . Chloe Benjamin's debut isn't a perfect novel, but she's a captivating storyteller with a brilliant concept, executed well overall. I really liked

    and will be even more excited to see what Benjamin writes next. Recommended for literary fiction lovers who don't mind a bit of unevenness, love a fresh voice, and appreciate a good story above all.

    -received an ARC, thanks to G.P. Putnam's Sons and Penguin Random House

  • Larry H

    I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

    If you could know the exact day of your death, would you want to find out? If you did find out, how would knowing that information affect how you lived your life? These questions are at the heart of

    , Chloe Benjamin's deeply affecting and beautifully written new book.

    In 1969, growing up on New York's Lower East Side, the Gold siblings learn that there is a traveling fortune teller in their neighborhood who can tell anyone the day they will die. While not

    I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

    If you could know the exact day of your death, would you want to find out? If you did find out, how would knowing that information affect how you lived your life? These questions are at the heart of

    , Chloe Benjamin's deeply affecting and beautifully written new book.

    In 1969, growing up on New York's Lower East Side, the Gold siblings learn that there is a traveling fortune teller in their neighborhood who can tell anyone the day they will die. While not everyone is sure that this is actually true, the four children—straightforward Varya, bossy Daniel, impetuous, magic-obsessed Klara, and dreamy Simon—decide to find out.

    What the woman tells each of them that day will greatly affect their lives, none more so than Klara and Simon. Klara, wanting nothing more than to pursue a career as a magician and illusionist, can't get out of New York and away from her stifling family soon enough, and she lets her younger brother Simon convince them that the two should flee to San Francisco after Klara graduates from high school. Simon knows he is different and dreams that San Francisco will be the place he can finally be free to be who he is, to find love and be someone other than the son destined to inherit his family's garment business.

    Klara watches as her brother pursues his life with reckless abandon, and while she wants to pursue her dreams as well, she knows she must be the stable one for him. Both are driven by the fortune teller's prophecy, which causes them to be more reckless and impetuous than they should, but also to take chances they might not otherwise pursue, to truly live their lives to their fullest. And when Klara finally meets someone who can help take her to the cusp of the world she craves entry to, she envisions bringing her illusions and tricks to an appreciating public, no matter the toll it takes on her.

    "Some magicians say that magic shatters your worldview. But I think magic holds the world together. It's dark matter; it's the glue of reality, the putty that fills the holes between everything we know to be true. And it takes magic to reveal how inadequate reality is."

    Meanwhile, Daniel and Varya, both angry and envious that their younger siblings left them responsible for their aging, widowed mother, try not to focus on whether what the fortune teller told them will come true, yet both pursue more grounded, stable careers—Daniel as a military doctor responsible for determining which soldiers are healthy enough to go to war, and Varya as a researcher determined to find the secrets of longevity. But each have secrets of their own, as well as the shared secrets which cause them increasing fear, anxiety, and guilt.

    is a fascinating book, one which was both surprising and predictable. Parts are truly moving and powerful—the first two sections, which focus on Simon and Klara, are much stronger than those which focus on Daniel and Varya. Daniel's section veers off-course with the reappearance of a character and a situation that seems entirely too pat, and Varya's section loses a bit of focus when it dwells in-depth on the science of her research, but the conclusion recaptures the passion, emotion, and beauty of the beginning.

    Benjamin is a fantastic storyteller and she has created a tremendously thought-provoking book. Is our destiny really predetermined, or can we have a hand in changing what is destined? Does the idea of knowing how long your life might last encourage you to live life to the fullest, or does it instead fill you with more fear and dread than the unknown would?

    I don't think I'll be able to get this book out of my mind anytime soon. The characters were so vivid, and even when the plot lost track, I was immersed in the story, which I'm being vague about because I don't want to spoil anything. I can't wait to see what comes next in Benjamin's literary career.

    NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

    See all of my reviews at

    .

  • Navidad Thelamour

    Chloe Benjamin’s

    is a thoughtfully executed novel written in simple, yet often poetic, prose that allowed the characters’ voices at their most forceful to shine on their own past the narrative itself. More than that, it is a novel crafted around a question we

    Chloe Benjamin’s

    is a thoughtfully executed novel written in simple, yet often poetic, prose that allowed the characters’ voices at their most forceful to shine on their own past the narrative itself. More than that, it is a novel crafted around a question we all ask ourselves more often than we’d care to admit:

    And, if you knew the exact day on which you’d die, would you live your life any differently than you would without that hateful knowledge?

    In their youth, the Gold siblings follow a rumor to the home of a Gypsy fortune teller who gives them the knowledge they seek: the exact dates of their deaths. These prophecies propel them forward for the rest of their lives, influencing their decisions, changing the courses of their lives and plunging the question into the forefront of their minds forever: Was the fortune teller right, and, if so, can they change the course of their own fates?

    It’s an intriguing idea, we must all admit. A scary one. A downright chilling one. And the leitmotif Benjamin poses to her reader manifests itself throughout the novel with compelling force, from the exploration of God and country’s place within our existence, to what the prophecy of one’s own death does to such beliefs. Do we cling to such notions and ingrained dogmas all the way to the end, cowering under them safely like warm, childhood blankets, or using them to fortify us in our resolve and everyday decisions—or, do we slough off and away such religious and secular beliefs and become our own reason for living, our own life force, whether to our own detriment or benefit?

    bounds along a timeline spanning five decades, trotting through the start of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco—

    ¬–toward Las Vegas in the 80s and into the early years of this century, tackling tough questions, such as the logistics behind increasing the human lifespan—and the politics of attempting such a thing. For readers who enjoy novels of sweeping timelines, they’re sure to find a treat in Benjamin’s latest novel. The period settings weren’t quite as immersive as I’d hoped—the societal and technological differences in backdrop between the decades were noted but not submerging in a way that allowed me to really feel I was moving from decade to decade with true authenticity. However, what I did take from this book were lessons to carry with me, delivered by poignant phrasing that outshone the actual stories of the four siblings’ lives. And that resonated loudly enough to forgive such specifics.

    I had an interesting relationship with this novel as I continued my reader’s affair with it. I could not relate specifically to any one of the characters in this book. I would not have been friends with any of them in real life, and I did feel that some of the plotlines were predictable. BUT, I learned a lesson from every single one of the siblings that I took with me until the end, and each of those moments of recognition were special.

    This is a novel with a strong core and a

    , with a moral and a central theme to tie all the threads together. Chloe Benjamin’s second novel continued her thus-far-established trend of exploring existential questions in our everyday lives, creating a brand for her that is sure to glimmer and shine, attracting new readers from far and wide. 4 stars ****

    I received a copy of this novel from the publisher, G.P. Putnam's Sons, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

    Exclusive CHLOE BENJAMIN INTERVIEW:

  • Emily May

    2 1/2 stars. I have a lot of mixed feelings about

    . Though there were parts I enjoyed, I was left feeling underwhelmed and like I'd recommend many other similar books before recommending this one.

    You should be aware that this is

    and focuses in depth on the lives

    2 1/2 stars. I have a lot of mixed feelings about

    . Though there were parts I enjoyed, I was left feeling underwhelmed and like I'd recommend many other similar books before recommending this one.

    You should be aware that this is

    and focuses in depth on the lives of four siblings. The enchanting premise that seems to promise elements of magical realism and the fantastical is a little misleading, as there is very little about prophecies and destiny. Though, personally, this didn't bother me so much. I really enjoy reading about families and the dynamics between them, especially when spread over many years, and I found it interesting to explore how each sibling deals with knowing the date of their death.

    It begins with the four siblings visiting a psychic as children, near their home in 1960s New York City. This woman tells them - Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya - the exact date of their deaths. The book then goes on to consider how this information will affect their lives and the way they live them. The sci-fi/fantasy aspects are waved aside quickly. While there are some brief mentions of fate vs. self-fulfilling prophecy, the author never attempts to offer answers.

    This is not a problem. My problem is that there are so many books about families with

    . The classic stuff -

    ,

    ,

    ,

    and

    , and the more recent stuff -

    ,

    ,

    and

    .

    The characters here didn't quite grab me like so many did in the aforementioned books. Some moments that should have been fraught with emotion seemed obvious and manipulative -

    The first two stories - that of Simon and Klara - have very little in the way of family dynamics, as Simon's story mostly consists of dancing in a San Francisco gay bar and meeting his new beau, and Klara's takes her to Vegas to be a magician. Secondary characters roam into these first two perspectives, but none of them make much of an impact.

    The second two stories are better. Daniel becomes a doctor in the military and his job leads him to discover something about the psychic who predicted the siblings' deaths. Though my favourite was the last - Varya's. She is now a longevity scientist doing experiments on monkeys. I thought her perspective was well-researched and thought-provoking, and it was easy to imagine someone becoming obsessed with aging when they know their own expiration date.

    The writing is just okay, which maybe contributes to making the characters less memorable. Benjamin also occasionally falls prey to the - increasingly more common in modern fiction -

    . This is something that always baffles me and it's not easy to explain because it's not about sex, exactly. It's like there'll be a scene where a character is washing the dishes and the author will suddenly mention his penis hanging limp between his legs. His penis has nothing to do with anything in that scene - the poor dude is just washing some dishes! - and yet, there it is. Here, the author introduces thirteen-year-old Varya by the "dark patch of fur between her legs" in

    . I just... why?

    Overall, though, this is a mixed bag of interesting ideas, steps in the right direction that halt too quickly, and a somewhat pedestrian account of the characters' lives.

    .

    |

    |

    |

    |

  • Holly  B

    DNF at 30%

  • Carol

    E-galley provided by Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam & Sons, and Author Chloe Benjamin. To be published January 9, 2018. A special shout out to Michael Kindness for his profuse recommendation of

    .

    I was lured in wanting to know the fate of the four Gold siblings whose date of death is foretold by a nomadic fortuneteller. To my amazement this was not the best part. Mesmerizing and so well told. The publishing date of January 9, 2018 can’t come soon enough.

    is bound to b

    E-galley provided by Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam & Sons, and Author Chloe Benjamin. To be published January 9, 2018. A special shout out to Michael Kindness for his profuse recommendation of

    .

    I was lured in wanting to know the fate of the four Gold siblings whose date of death is foretold by a nomadic fortuneteller. To my amazement this was not the best part. Mesmerizing and so well told. The publishing date of January 9, 2018 can’t come soon enough.

    is bound to be a best of 2018 for me.

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