Eternal Life

by Dara Horn

Overview: What would it really mean to live forever? 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.

Janet Kolodner (04/29/18): I loved this book. I loved Rachel. I loved the premise of what it means to live forever. I loved the love story. I loved the history lessons. I loved the idea of historical fiction. There are layers upon layers in this book that move with each other and across each other -- historical, philosophical, emotional, cultural, ... It is beautifully researched. The story mostly takes place in two time periods -- Roman times (in Jerusalem) during the 1st century before and after the destruction of the first Temple (destruction was in the year 70) and modern times, but as Rachel reminisces, we read about her lives at other time periods as well. If you know Jewish history, there are some ironic/funny reminiscences; if you don't know Jewish history, you won't miss anything -- there are enough layers that if you miss some of the history, you still have lots of layers left.

This is the best of Dara Horn's books, I think (though I did not read the Civil War one). I found myself able to imagine Rachel's life, even as she was living it 2000 years ago -- the best historical fiction allows that. She lives life as a wife and mother over the 2000 years -- has hundreds of children with who knows how many husbands. That old love, Elazar, who also lives life eternally comes back over and over, and, wow, I feel like I understood that love story also -- it's a love/hate relationship with the tenderest of love scenes.

Definitely recommended!!!
Rating: *****

Faith Bowers (03/04/18): Dara Horn writes stories totally outside of our realm of normalcy. The premise is exchanging death to save the life of their son. Rachel and Elazar fell in love during the days of the second Temple in Jerusalem, almost 2000 years ago. So they live forever. I had to adjust to the idea. I have read books with this idea but not that far back. When Horn writes about Roman occupied Jerusalem the writing is lyrical similar to the Bible. When Rachel is in our time, the writing is modern. I sense that Elazar has more control with his eternal life than Rachel. Rachel wants to die as she is tired of living. The novel has some twists and by the end it had become an enjoyable read.
Rating: ***

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