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Publisher's Summary

A dazzling family love story reminiscent of Everything I Never Told You from a novelist heralded by Lorrie Moore as a "great new talent".

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.

Their 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, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

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.

©2017 Chloe Benjamin (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

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This book is good but . . .

I really enjoyed this book until the end. It kept me interested and surprised and I finished it in 3 days. The ending doesn’t really resolve anything, it just ends. It could use a prologue or something, I felt like it was in the middle of a chapter and just stopped, but nope that was it.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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 Inaudible unfortunately

Would you try another book from Chloe Benjamin and/or Maggie Hoffman?

From Chloe Hoffman yes, but from Maggie Hoffman no.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance is read in such a monotone - like Ms Hoffman is a somnambulist sleepreading the script.

Any additional comments?

So many amazing performers on Audible bring even tough pithy books alive. Was so excited to hear this selection but will delete it and go back to reading the text version.

104 of 117 people found this review helpful

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  • Kay
  • Baltimore, MD
  • 01-28-18

Great writing, unfulfilling plot

I was drawn in by the premise of this book and the writing is truly lovely. But I just didn’t enjoy the story. As it went on I felt like each part was more cringe worthy than the next. I appreciate the author’s desire to explore themes like how thoughts influence life or why we assume living longer is better. I’ve never encountered a book like this where I appreciated its depth, liked the questions it posed and yet was so relieved for it to be over so I could move on. The ending felt superficial and I was less and less invested with each successive character. I was also annoyed that Gertie moves out of caricature only in the final pages.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Mysticism vs. the Self-fulfilling Prophecy


As the summary says, during the summer of 1969, four siblings in New York, Varya - 13, Daniel -11, Klara - 9, and Simon - 7, are contemplating another boring, miserably humid day on the Lower East Side when Daniel tells them he heard about a lady, a psychic, claiming the power *to tell fortunes and something else...she can say when you'll die.* Varya argues she doesn't want to know, Klara and Simon agree to go, and gradually the four make a pact to combine their savings and make a secret visit to the lady on Hester St.

Varya is the last to meet with the woman. After manipulating the young girl's palm she tells Varya she'll die in 2044, at the age of 88. *How do you know?* Varya asks. The woman says everything is contained in the hand, quoting the Greek philosopher, Heroclitus: *A man's character is his destiny.* (Personally, I'm not sure how the author has tied destiny to longevity.) When she reunites with her siblings outside, Danny is stony, Klara's cheeks are streaked with tears, and Simon is quiet and distant then refuses to eat dinner. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the author is throwing us a glimpse into the future. Potato, potahto...the first little manipulation by the author, in my opinion, a step at setting into motion the prophecies. The author is essentially asking, if you knew when you were to die, how and would you live your life differently, and, at the same time inserting the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy i.e.: an expectation about a subject, such as a person or event, can affect our behavior towards that subject, which causes the expectation to be realized.
If Tom Hank's character in Big, 12 yr. old Josh, would have known how it would all go, would he have dropped that quarter into Zoltar's gaping mouth and said to those flashing red eyes, *I wish I were big?"

The rest of the novel is divided into sections, each dealing with one of the siblings. Young Simon leaves for San Francisco ten years later, becomes a dancer in a gay nightclub. It's the early 80's, and after a string of boa feathers and gay affairs, he contracts AIDS. The sexual encounters the author describes are a bit graphic, which may be an issue for some readers. Simon has been reckless and irresponsible, obviously living very conscious of his death sentence.The once little quiet, distant Simon that couldn't eat his dinner, passes away the very day foretold by the fortune teller. ...And then there were three.

And, so it goes, minor characters slip in and out of the story, perfunctory visits to the Jewish mother in New York regroups the siblings and feel like little more than mile markers to show how the family dynamics have shifted. But, you can't yet sell Ms. Benjamin short. There are also other factors afflicting the siblings as they live out their lives. How do depression, addictions, mental disorders, disease, and family problems fit into each person's trajectory?

Haven't most of us felt that jab of self-doubt while reading a book? Sat in the corner at Book Club listening to unanimous accolades, too busy swallowing your intended declaration of *poopoo* regarding your reading experience to enjoy the coffee cake. That's how I've felt since I read this novel and the corresponding rave reviews. I waited and tried to re-evaluate my experience, but I wasn't able to find myself engaged with the book. And I really didn't like any of the siblings. The author writes intelligently, beautifully, and almost convinced me this was deserving the starred reviews. I didn't feel it, so I'll sit back and eat my coffee cake and realize that a book can have an interesting premise, wonderful sentences, a page full of recommendations, and still be a disappointment.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Warning to animal lovers

The last 1/4 of this book tells of some of the horrors of primate labs. I found it very upsetting.

26 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Oh no

I usually only write a review when I want to rave about a book, but in this case I’ll make an exception.

I’m actually not sure if I like the book itself because the narration is so overwhelmingly awful that it completely obscured the writing.
Pretty much every character is voiced with an over-enunciated and yet somehow slightly slurred belligerence that is grating, monotonous and obscures the story. Even the exposition is over the top, with seemingly random emphases spat out in slow motion through clenched teeth.

The story itself is intriguing but also annoying. Teatro ZinZanni is woefully misrepresented, as is the Castro of the 70s and 80s. Other aspects are better written, but in this “performance” the flow and internal integrity of the constructed is shredded by the audio. In this case, the reader is better served by the printed page and her own imaginatiob.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I did not enjoy this one bit

The narrator was really good but the story was really lacking substances and didn’t make you feel connected to the characters. A lot of unnecessary details and the few good parts were skimmed past quickly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Considered a refund 1/4 of the way in.

This was one of the slowest & unentertaining books I have listened to. I wanted to file for a refund after 1/4 of the book but I was listening while driving so couldn't log on to a computer.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting!

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it came out, but I’ve been caught up reading other things. I loved the story and think it’s a unique book! Performance was great, but I think I would have preferred to read a hard copy of this story instead of audio.

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Intriguing but difficult content

It was so wonderfully put together. I couldn’t wait to know what happened in each of the siblings’ lives. However, I was surprised at some of the graphic nature of portions of the book. There are some topics that some may find controversial or difficult to hear. Over all it’s an amazingly well written book and so unique. Truly makes you want to analyze your self and your relationships.