Eternal Life
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.

Eternal Life Details

TitleEternal Life
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 23rd, 2018
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
ISBN-139780393608533
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Literature, Jewish, Adult, Magical Realism

Eternal Life Review

  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    Audiobook.....read by Elizabeth Rogers! The narrator is excellent- and this book is extraordinary. Beautiful writing- totally fascinating. “The only way this will end is if I die”. Rachel Azaria can’t die. We take a two thousand year voyage with Rachel — she gives up her death in order to save her first son. Rachel made a vow to save her child in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem— and now that she has lived - FOR 2000 YEARS, she has buried thousands of children, grandchildren, and husbands. She wants Audiobook.....read by Elizabeth Rogers! The narrator is excellent- and this book is extraordinary. Beautiful writing- totally fascinating. “The only way this will end is if I die”. Rachel Azaria can’t die. We take a two thousand year voyage with Rachel — she gives up her death in order to save her first son. Rachel made a vow to save her child in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem— and now that she has lived - FOR 2000 YEARS, she has buried thousands of children, grandchildren, and husbands. She wants it to finally end. Living has become a curse. She repeats: “my problem is I can’t die”. What reasons are there for being alive? This isn’t a long book - but it’s very original- thought provoking- filled with Jewish history - Jewish mysticism, exploring immortality- faith, family, death, and......“What reasons are there for being Alive?”.....and ultimately.....”what is the meaning of life”. Dara Horn blends ancient and modern history - she leaves us thinking about things that matter. Our children- our life - our memories - troubling voids we experience- life extensions - accomplishments- and changes from one generation to another. Fascinating- funny - sad - compelling- TERRIFIC!!!!
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  • Erika Dreifus
    January 1, 1970
    I wish I were in a book club specifically to talk about this book.
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Eternal Life, by Dara Horn, Jan. 2018Horn’s latest novel, Eternal Life, follows Rachel, daughter of Azaria, through more 2,000 years of her many lives. Teenage Rachel and her true love, Elazar make a sacred vow to save the life of their first born son, Yochaman, and in doing so, sacrifice their own death for him. Eternal life for Rachel comes with a very high price, and the suffering of losing her children and loved ones over and over again is almost more than she can bear. This is a powerful bo Eternal Life, by Dara Horn, Jan. 2018Horn’s latest novel, Eternal Life, follows Rachel, daughter of Azaria, through more 2,000 years of her many lives. Teenage Rachel and her true love, Elazar make a sacred vow to save the life of their first born son, Yochaman, and in doing so, sacrifice their own death for him. Eternal life for Rachel comes with a very high price, and the suffering of losing her children and loved ones over and over again is almost more than she can bear. This is a powerful book of family, faith, death, and ultimately, the meaning of life. Recommended for fans of flawless literary fiction. Dara Horn is one of the most gifted writers of her generation. I feel totally incapable of writing a review for her work; she is brilliant. Everyone should read Dara Horn.
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  • Jaime
    January 1, 1970
    I very rarely write reviews on GR anymore, but this book struck me in such a way that it felt strangely familiar yet very new. Maybe because of the Jewish history woven throughout the book, maybe because of the themes of death and rebirth and parenting that seem to be so prevalent in my life lately; I don’t know. But I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to hear all of Rachel’s stories, all about all of her children, and what lies in store for her. I haven’t read a book like this in a while, and I a I very rarely write reviews on GR anymore, but this book struck me in such a way that it felt strangely familiar yet very new. Maybe because of the Jewish history woven throughout the book, maybe because of the themes of death and rebirth and parenting that seem to be so prevalent in my life lately; I don’t know. But I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to hear all of Rachel’s stories, all about all of her children, and what lies in store for her. I haven’t read a book like this in a while, and I am so grateful for this story.
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  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    Oftentimes love is forbidden, which makes it even more dangerous. This is the story of Rachel, a young woman living in Roman-occupied Jerusalem who made a disastrous and foolish oath to a temple priest in order to save the life of her child. The price is that neither she, nor the baby's father can ever die. Ever. She rears families, only to suffer as she witnesses them grow old and die, make stupid decisions and worse, be a fool. Yes, she grows old but she always comes back as the 18 year old wo Oftentimes love is forbidden, which makes it even more dangerous. This is the story of Rachel, a young woman living in Roman-occupied Jerusalem who made a disastrous and foolish oath to a temple priest in order to save the life of her child. The price is that neither she, nor the baby's father can ever die. Ever. She rears families, only to suffer as she witnesses them grow old and die, make stupid decisions and worse, be a fool. Yes, she grows old but she always comes back as the 18 year old woman that she once was. Day after day, year after year, century after century. Now Rachel is obsessed with thinking about the reasons for being alive: to correct mistakes, to avoid regret, to accept regret and to change. This is a marvelous work of historical fiction, filled with Jewish history, mysticism, and certainly one that will have you researching Yochanan ben Zakkai, the Jewish revolt against Rome, and the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE.I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
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  • Ron Charles
    January 1, 1970
    Rachel, the 2,000-year-old heroine of Dara Horn’s "Eternal Life," wants to know how to die. A terrible bargain to save her son back in ancient Jerusalem cursed her with a life that never ends. Now Rachel cannot stand “the absolute loneliness, the bottomless homesick loneliness of years upon years of lies, the deep cold void of a loneliness no mortal can imagine.” She has buried enough husbands and outlived enough children. In her current iteration — her favorite so far — she is an 84-year-old gr Rachel, the 2,000-year-old heroine of Dara Horn’s "Eternal Life," wants to know how to die. A terrible bargain to save her son back in ancient Jerusalem cursed her with a life that never ends. Now Rachel cannot stand “the absolute loneliness, the bottomless homesick loneliness of years upon years of lies, the deep cold void of a loneliness no mortal can imagine.” She has buried enough husbands and outlived enough children. In her current iteration — her favorite so far — she is an 84-year-old grandmother in New York City, and she wants it to stop here. Perhaps her granddaughter, a doctor, can help, but how to convince her without sounding. . . .To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    Eternal Life had such a fascinating premise; a young woman named Rachel makes an eternal bond with her baby daddy, Elazar, to save their only son by forfeiting their deaths so their child may live. As a result, Rachel and Elazar can never die.Great idea, right?I was expecting, I don't know; old world magic, immortality, recaps of the amazing and adventurous lives Rachel has lived to tell.But that wasn't it at all. ** Spoilers ahead ** When we meet Rachel 2,000 years later, she is in the proces Eternal Life had such a fascinating premise; a young woman named Rachel makes an eternal bond with her baby daddy, Elazar, to save their only son by forfeiting their deaths so their child may live. As a result, Rachel and Elazar can never die.Great idea, right?I was expecting, I don't know; old world magic, immortality, recaps of the amazing and adventurous lives Rachel has lived to tell.But that wasn't it at all. ** Spoilers ahead ** When we meet Rachel 2,000 years later, she is in the process of leaving her current family, before they notice she is not aging normally. She runs a small business and she loves her children. All her children. That's what she's been doing for the last 2,000 years old, marrying and breeding incessantly.She hasn't been marching for equality. She hasn't been working in a factory to support the war effort. She hasn't become a suffragette or done anything noteworthy.She's just been having babies. Lots and lots of babies.And Elazar is no prize, either. What a shocker. He is the world's creepiest and oldest stalker, literally and figuratively. For the last 2,000 years, he has been following and tracking Rachel's whereabouts, professing his eternal love and hoping she will forgive him for a misdeed he wrought on her first husband all those centuries ago.You see, Rachel and Elazar had a relationship 2,000 years old in old timey Jerusalem. Their relationship is never fully explained, we see how they met, how they hooked up over and over and when she gets pregnant. But do I believe in it? Not really. There's no sexual chemistry, no vibe, no motivation as to why they got together. Because she can read Scripture? Because he was the son of a powerful priest? I don't buy it but for the sake of the story I can suspend disbelief.As the couple continues their on-again, off-again relationship through the centuries, Rachel constantly whines and rags on Elazar about his obsessive behavior, about how he can't let her go, about what he did to her first husband, yet she can't keep hooking up with him every decade or so for the occasional booty call because, hey, I get it, he's the only one who understands your unusual predicament because he's in the same jam as well.But, jeez, stop complaining like a twenty year old brat. Talk about holding a grudge.The origin and the nature of the bond that gives eternal life is never fully explained.Is it a curse? Is it a punishment? How did it come about? Are there others like them? Can it be broken?Faith is touched upon many times by Rachel and other characters but I couldn't help but feel that the author had a personal religions agenda of her own that came through not so subtly. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but the undercurrent is a little rocky.This story had such rich possibilities with a myriad of diverse paths it could have taken:If you could lead multiple lives, how many would it take to achieve a successful and fulfilling life?Can we ever do over one's life?Can we ever repent?Does saving the life of a child cause for repentance? Why?Rachel is a bore. After 2,000 years, she still acts and behaves like the whiny, bratty, petulant 18 year old she was when she made the pact. Maybe that's the problem. She was an immature child when she exchanged her death so that her son may live. Perhaps if she had been older, a bit wiser, she would have done something with all her years and lives. Or maybe not.I also found it hard to believe that after so many lives lived, Rachel wouldn't have a contingency plan in place for switching identities for when the time came for her to escape and start her life over when her current family noticed she was not aging as a grandmother normally does.Instead, she needs Elazar to provide her with the appropriate documents and paperwork to start her life anew. Why? Is she not a capable, intelligent woman after 2,000 years? Has she learned nothing?Is a woman nothing more than a breeder? A mother and caretaker? A wife and housekeeper?Because that's the feeling I'm getting from this story.I admired Rachel's love and devotion to all her children, especially her firstborn. Her memories of her first son with Elazar is never far from her thoughts because as her first child, he holds a special place in her heart that no other child can take the place of. I respect that. It also reminds me of what my mother once said to me about being the eldest and her firstborn that I'll never forget.I added an extra star for the original premise; otherwise, it would have fallen into my popular one star rating category.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    When Rachel was very young and foolish, she made a sacred pact to save her son. Rather than her life, though, she sacrificed her death. Thus, Rachel keeps living through the centuries, loving and losing a succession of husbands and children. The only constant is her immortal beloved, who has been wooing/stalking her since Roman times. The novel alternates between her first life in ancient Jerusalem and the present day, when a fresh crop of descendants inspires her to resume her quest for an endi When Rachel was very young and foolish, she made a sacred pact to save her son. Rather than her life, though, she sacrificed her death. Thus, Rachel keeps living through the centuries, loving and losing a succession of husbands and children. The only constant is her immortal beloved, who has been wooing/stalking her since Roman times. The novel alternates between her first life in ancient Jerusalem and the present day, when a fresh crop of descendants inspires her to resume her quest for an ending. Humorous, heartbreaking, and touching rumination on the point of being human and alive.
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  • M.E. Tudor
    January 1, 1970
    How many mothers would gladly give their life to save their child? When Rachel agrees to give up her death to save her sick son, she doesn’t really understand what that means until she’s burnt to death and wakes up the same age she was when she and her lover to a vow together to save their son’s life. Two thousand years and many lives and deaths later, Rachel is ready to really die. She’s tired of watching her husbands and children growing old and dying. In the modern era, her favorite granddaug How many mothers would gladly give their life to save their child? When Rachel agrees to give up her death to save her sick son, she doesn’t really understand what that means until she’s burnt to death and wakes up the same age she was when she and her lover to a vow together to save their son’s life. Two thousand years and many lives and deaths later, Rachel is ready to really die. She’s tired of watching her husbands and children growing old and dying. In the modern era, her favorite granddaughter, Hannah is a scientist studying DNA who may finally be able to give Rachel what she wants most, a real death. This story is so well written you won’t mind traveling from modern times to ancient times to find out why Rachel feels the way she does about her eternal life, and why figuring out why life should have an end.
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  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    This is a sweeping look at eternity and the love that binds parents and their child. We make deals with God all the time - in times of despair or just when we need a bit of good luck but would you make a deal to live forever in exchange for God sparing the life of your son. That is exactly what Rachel and the boy's father did in biblical times. Rachel has watched her hundreds of children grow old, outlived all of her husbands only to die and be reborn as someone new. Her true love also made the This is a sweeping look at eternity and the love that binds parents and their child. We make deals with God all the time - in times of despair or just when we need a bit of good luck but would you make a deal to live forever in exchange for God sparing the life of your son. That is exactly what Rachel and the boy's father did in biblical times. Rachel has watched her hundreds of children grow old, outlived all of her husbands only to die and be reborn as someone new. Her true love also made the pact and they continue to meet up but never stay together for long. When one of Rachel's grandchildren tries to study the secret of her longevity and asks for a DNA sample for a study her world spins out of control. The blend of old Hebrew teachings made modern and the flashbacks back to Rachel's first life is magical. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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  • Chaitra
    January 1, 1970
    More like 2.5 stars. I read some of this book in February, and read the rest after a long gap, but it's not really why I didn't like the book. My problem is pretty much the same one I have when I read any other book which has a centuries old protagonist, they seem about as old mentally as whatever they appear to be.Rachel here, exchanged her mortality so she could save her dying son in ancient Jerusalem. So did her son's father, who was not her husband. She doesn't particularly realize that she More like 2.5 stars. I read some of this book in February, and read the rest after a long gap, but it's not really why I didn't like the book. My problem is pretty much the same one I have when I read any other book which has a centuries old protagonist, they seem about as old mentally as whatever they appear to be.Rachel here, exchanged her mortality so she could save her dying son in ancient Jerusalem. So did her son's father, who was not her husband. She doesn't particularly realize that she can't die, until she faces a fatal accident and doesn't die. She just resurrects as a fresh faced eighteen year old, and continues with her life. By the time we meet her, we're in contemporary United States. We're teased with some momentousness back in the days, but beyond a line or two, the exciting times are long past. She wants to really die, and propitiously, one of her current granddaughters is working on gene correction and immortality. It's a great premise and very ambitious. However, the book didn't match up. As I said before, Rachel does not sound old. She seems melancholic, and she holds a grudge over millennia, but not much wiser than she was when she was eighteen for the first time. After watching empires fall, and empires rise, you'd think she would have changed a little. She seemed so bright too, in ancient Jerusalem. She's one of the few people who knows her scrolls. And over the course of her eternal life, she speaks not of what she herself has done, but what (a few of) her children have. That was it? Even in the end, when her bid for dying fails, and she starts again in South America, she holds a child. She does talk of a university education for the first time, true, but her stalker/lover on the other hand is training for a Mars mission. She was a non-conformist in stricture-bound, dogmatic old Jerusalem, but her contemporary version is a pale shadow to say the least. It might have been fascinating if it was explored properly, but the book is too short for something as vast as this.I'm still rating this high enough, because of the ambition behind it, but it's not an execution I liked.
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  • Shannon Kirk
    January 1, 1970
    (UPDATE 3/1): LOOK. YOU JUST NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I continue to be obsessed with this perfect book. I've already purchased it for three people. I only purchase books for other people if the book IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. (UPDATE 2/27): Fuller review to come shortly, keeping mid-range review below. For now, I need to report that I’m having a full-on love affair with this book I’m so obsessed with it. Was going to lend it to a friend when done, but I have now underlined things and fol (UPDATE 3/1): LOOK. YOU JUST NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I continue to be obsessed with this perfect book. I've already purchased it for three people. I only purchase books for other people if the book IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. (UPDATE 2/27): Fuller review to come shortly, keeping mid-range review below. For now, I need to report that I’m having a full-on love affair with this book I’m so obsessed with it. Was going to lend it to a friend when done, but I have now underlined things and folded too many pages to indicate passages I’m in-love with. I choose to believe this book was written directly and solely for me alone, that is how perfect I find it. More to come on my review. (FIRST REVIEW): I never ever do this, but I’m going to review this half way through and then update. I cannot imagine I won’t love this book even more when done. I stayed up LATE last night reading all the way to the middle. It is gorgeous. And I went to bed and woke up thinking about the *feels* from this intense historical and romantic book. It has everything I love. A mystical premise in modern times (woman is unable to die) that goes back to ancient Middle East, the Sacrifices of animals for salvation with Roman guards overlooking.....the questions about man-made religion tied into a love story. The historical treatment of women, but a brave (and very likable) protagonist who rises above. It is so rare for me to find a book like this, so I just have to pop in and give a mid-way review, because no matter what, the five stars for the first half will never change.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    3.5. There were parts of this book I really enjoyed-including the concept. But somewhere along the way, it seemed to dwell on go into large parts (like Rocky's life) that didn't really seem to go with the theme. It seemed disjointed to me. I enjoyed the biblical history parts and the concept about doing anything for your children and also how dying really does make life worth living.
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    Eternal Life, by Dara Horn, was one of the most interesting novels I have read in a long time. I do not normally choose to read books that include time travel, and I did not know this one would. Had I known, I would not have picked it up, but I am glad that I started to read it, and that I was instantly hooked. It is a quick paced story of Rachel, who was born more than 2000 years ago, the daughter of a Jewish scribe, who fell in love with Elezar, the son of a priest, though not a priest in the Eternal Life, by Dara Horn, was one of the most interesting novels I have read in a long time. I do not normally choose to read books that include time travel, and I did not know this one would. Had I known, I would not have picked it up, but I am glad that I started to read it, and that I was instantly hooked. It is a quick paced story of Rachel, who was born more than 2000 years ago, the daughter of a Jewish scribe, who fell in love with Elezar, the son of a priest, though not a priest in the christian world. I believe he, too, was a Jew. Rachel, soon after, married, and then made a bargain to save her young son when he grew ill. The bargain was that her son could live if she agreed to live forever. Yes forever. Rachel lived so many lives, had so many husbands, so many children and grandchildren, etc. She could not die. She wanted to die at times, because losing everyone she loved was so painful, and she had to endure these losses so many times over 2000+ years! Over the course of the book, which is a fairly quick read, the story is told by going back and forth in time so we come to understand questions that arose. I learned a lot. My minimal knowledge of the bible and Judaism helped me understand things that someone without a background in Judaism might not understand, but I don't think that would effect the joy of reading Eternal Life. Now I need to discover the other novels by Dara Horn! She was unknown me until I read Eternal Life.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    I think it would help the reader of Dara Horm's "Eternal Life" is they were both a biblical scholar and a lover of Magical Realism as a writing style. Horn's book basically covers over two thousand years in the life of Rachel, who simply, cannot die. She can be burned to cinders - and was many times - and she will return to life as an 18 year old, ready to begin yet another life as a wife and mother. She thinks she has had seventy or so life times and by 2017, simply wants to die - permanently.H I think it would help the reader of Dara Horm's "Eternal Life" is they were both a biblical scholar and a lover of Magical Realism as a writing style. Horn's book basically covers over two thousand years in the life of Rachel, who simply, cannot die. She can be burned to cinders - and was many times - and she will return to life as an 18 year old, ready to begin yet another life as a wife and mother. She thinks she has had seventy or so life times and by 2017, simply wants to die - permanently.How was Rachel blessed with eternal life? It seems that around the BC/AD changeover, Rachel made a pact with a Jewish priest that in order to save the life of her infant son, she would have to live life over and over again. Truthfully, I'm a little sketchy on what happened to make her eternal; one of problems with Magical Realism is the author can sort of fudge on rationality. But, her young son lived and Rachel went from lifetime to lifetime, country to country, marrying and outliving even her great, great, great (etc) grandchildren. She was joined in eternity by Elazar, her lover from her first life who appeared time and again to complicate her life (lives).I'm still a bit undecided about how to rate "Eternal Life". For the right reader, it's five star, but for the wrong one, it's 3 star at best. I'm giving it a four star rating because, while I probably am not the "right" reader (and god only knows who is, other than who I've written about in the first sentence), I appreciated the craft and knowledge Dara Horn showed in writing "Eternal Life".
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  • Karen McQuestion
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book even though it wasn't quite what I anticipated. The transitions back and forth through time were seamlessly done, which is no small thing, and the writing was beautiful. I loved the way the author interwove cultural and historical details. My only small quibble was that the ending was not entirely satisfying to me as a reader, at least initially. But after giving it a lot of thought, I realized it was cleverly done and in keeping with the message of the book. The fault I really enjoyed this book even though it wasn't quite what I anticipated. The transitions back and forth through time were seamlessly done, which is no small thing, and the writing was beautiful. I loved the way the author interwove cultural and historical details. My only small quibble was that the ending was not entirely satisfying to me as a reader, at least initially. But after giving it a lot of thought, I realized it was cleverly done and in keeping with the message of the book. The fault was not with the ending, but with me and my preference for tidy wrap-ups and happily-ever-afters. Fiction, like life, doesn't always work that way.
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  • Jackie Keller
    January 1, 1970
    At first I was put off by the way the story is told - you have to infer and then later chapters reveal the blanks. But by the end I loved it. Tells a big picture story in a small and personal way. ❤ At first I was put off by the way the story is told - you have to infer and then later chapters reveal the blanks. But by the end I loved it. Tells a big picture story in a small and personal way. ❤️
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  • Michaela
    January 1, 1970
    ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- So, first things first, the cover illustration on the edition I received was just fantastic. It definitely would have made me pause if I'd been out browsing. I'd for sure have stopped and picked it up to see what it was about, so kudos on that. Sadly, that's pretty much where the fun ends. I was disappointed by this, b/c it was a great idea. Living forever without a being a vampire, well that's interesting enough. The story s ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- So, first things first, the cover illustration on the edition I received was just fantastic. It definitely would have made me pause if I'd been out browsing. I'd for sure have stopped and picked it up to see what it was about, so kudos on that. Sadly, that's pretty much where the fun ends. I was disappointed by this, b/c it was a great idea. Living forever without a being a vampire, well that's interesting enough. The story started off fine, and I didn't come across any problems w/ writing style or narration. Unfortunately, the development is lacking. The characters were kind of flat. The story in a nutshell is about a woman who spends centuries doing nothing other than breeding, and holding a grudge against her 1st boyfriend. The supposed reason for living she found is to watch her kids live, and see them effect the world, rise or fall....but ironically, w/ all that time she herself never bothers to do anything other than marry and breed. So, no story really. Just hella lame. I was looking forward to this, and was truly interested when I started. Wish it had been better developed.....like, idk, maybe she could have learned how to do something.
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  • G
    January 1, 1970
    Dara Horn may be one of my new favorite authors. I loved this book because the story is just so unusual and original! The entire concept of Rachel's life, and that of her former lover, astounded me. Horn's creativity knows no bounds. All the elements of family, sacrifice, and love, which appear in books ALL the time, suddenly felt new again. I'm not sure how the author accomplished that, but I think it has to do with how well she wrote the characters, and how utterly authentic they feel. I laugh Dara Horn may be one of my new favorite authors. I loved this book because the story is just so unusual and original! The entire concept of Rachel's life, and that of her former lover, astounded me. Horn's creativity knows no bounds. All the elements of family, sacrifice, and love, which appear in books ALL the time, suddenly felt new again. I'm not sure how the author accomplished that, but I think it has to do with how well she wrote the characters, and how utterly authentic they feel. I laughed and cried with them because I related to them so deeply, despite the premise of the book having to do with something so wholly unrelatable—the supernatural curse (or gift) of eternal life.It didn't go where I expected, but I found it satisfying nonetheless. I can't say enough about how rich and fascinating the Jewish history/culture presented here is. I definitely recommend this book.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Exceptional! What a novel-- I devoured it and thought about it when I wasn't reading it, the sign of an exceptional 5 star read for me! I was privileged to hear Dara speak about this book earlier this week. Someone asked how the idea of writing this novel came to her. She explained that she often leyns (chants) the Torah and was thinking about the parasha (section) she would later chant aloud, which focused on the generations of the patriarchs. She thought to herself, why do we never speak of th Exceptional! What a novel-- I devoured it and thought about it when I wasn't reading it, the sign of an exceptional 5 star read for me! I was privileged to hear Dara speak about this book earlier this week. Someone asked how the idea of writing this novel came to her. She explained that she often leyns (chants) the Torah and was thinking about the parasha (section) she would later chant aloud, which focused on the generations of the patriarchs. She thought to herself, why do we never speak of the generations in terms of the matriarchs? What about the generations of Rachel? Without matriarchs there would be no future generations, after all. In this beautiful novel, we learn about the generations of Rachel. Dara's love for Jewish texts radiates throughout"Eternal Life" as does her sense of humor.
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  • Kathryn Bashaar
    January 1, 1970
    This book has an interesting premise. 18-year-old Rachel lives in Jerusalem at the time of the Roman occupation, right before the fall of the Temple. When she becomes pregnant by her lover Elazar, who is of the priestly caste and cannot marry her, her parents quickly find her an unwitting husband. But the child, Yochanan, becomes seriously ill early in his childhood. Rachel and Elazar make a fateful bargain: their deaths for their son's life. Yochanan is spared, but Rachel and Elazar are doomed This book has an interesting premise. 18-year-old Rachel lives in Jerusalem at the time of the Roman occupation, right before the fall of the Temple. When she becomes pregnant by her lover Elazar, who is of the priestly caste and cannot marry her, her parents quickly find her an unwitting husband. But the child, Yochanan, becomes seriously ill early in his childhood. Rachel and Elazar make a fateful bargain: their deaths for their son's life. Yochanan is spared, but Rachel and Elazar are doomed to live forever. They each have dozens of families and hundreds of children over the centuries, all of whom they outlive. Elazar pursues the ambivalent Rachel through two millenia - until the 21st century dawns, and it appears that technology may offer Rachel a way out of her unwanted eternal life. This story definitely drew me in. Rachel is an appealling character, and the concept of eternal life is well-handled. But there were some loose threads and some things that didn't make sense, and I felt ambivalent about how the story ended. Like my reviews? Check out my blog at http://www.kathrynbashaar.com/blog/Author of The Saint's Mistress: https://www.bing.com/search?q=amazon....
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    This is the kind of book I usually give 5 stars to (i.e.., Incarnations by Susan Barker, Distant Music by Lee Langley, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson) but this one took me a while to get into. In fact, I only really started enjoying it when we flash back to the story of how Rachel and Elazar met and made the vow. I found the story to be a little confusing in the beginning, to the point where I had to reread most of the first 3 chapters. If I could, I would give 5 stars to the chapters that tell This is the kind of book I usually give 5 stars to (i.e.., Incarnations by Susan Barker, Distant Music by Lee Langley, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson) but this one took me a while to get into. In fact, I only really started enjoying it when we flash back to the story of how Rachel and Elazar met and made the vow. I found the story to be a little confusing in the beginning, to the point where I had to reread most of the first 3 chapters. If I could, I would give 5 stars to the chapters that tell Rachel's early stories, which included a lot of Jewish history, and 2 stars to the chapters about her modern day life. That's how I came up with the 3 star rating. I was glad it was relatively short (233 pages); it's what kept me reading.
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  • Shelly
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book. This slow reader read this one rather quickly. It’s a mix of very readable literary fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy with a dash of romance.
  • Oana
    January 1, 1970
    Rachel :“The hard part isn’t living forever,It’s making life worth living.” Thanks Vio.
  • Cait
    January 1, 1970
    This was a really beautiful story. It was quite a fast read as well, which was actually disappointing when I realised how close I was to the end.
  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    Author Dara Horn’s latest work, “Eternal Life” considers what it would be like if you could never die. What would life after life after life be like? Protagonist Rachel made a deal with a high priest (what we would consider a deal with the devil) that if her sick son doesn’t die, she would give up her death for eternity. Rachel is 18 years old and this happened 2000 years prior to the twenty-first century. Even the high priest warned her that this was a difficult commitment and that past people Author Dara Horn’s latest work, “Eternal Life” considers what it would be like if you could never die. What would life after life after life be like? Protagonist Rachel made a deal with a high priest (what we would consider a deal with the devil) that if her sick son doesn’t die, she would give up her death for eternity. Rachel is 18 years old and this happened 2000 years prior to the twenty-first century. Even the high priest warned her that this was a difficult commitment and that past people turned down the deal. Rachel, though, is determined that her son lives. That young Rachel didn’t understand what eternity entailed. As the story opens, current Rachel reflects on her past children and the similarities to her current children and grandchildren. Rachel remembers all her children, all her husbands, all her lives. She cannot die. The only way she can leave her current life is if she is burned. And she’s been burned at the stake, in houses, during The Inquisition. It’s amazing how often one can die by burning. After burning, Rachel comes back as her eighteen-year-old self, in an entirely different place, and starts all over again. Rachel isn’t alone in this quandary; her first son’s father, Elazar, also promised his death. Horn showcases her humor writing abilities in Elazar and Rachel’s ongoing relationship. The two have never married, and Elazar pines for Rachel through the centuries. He’s quite a character and adds entertainment to the story.Rachel ponders her lives. What are the reasons to be alive? Rachel’s lives span the history of Jewish societies from the Roman Empire to current life. Rachel has lived it all. What Rachel is tired of is loss… centuries of loss. She’s seen everything and done everything so that life, right now, doesn’t shake her up too much. But there is sadness in that. No joy is left because the inevitable loss is right around the corner. It sounds bleak, but Horn includes life’s comedic moments that show the reader that to live, one must see the humor in everything we do. It’s not slapstick comedy; it’s the comedic absurdities of everyday life.I loved this one and will look for her previous works. I agree with Rachel, if you can’t laugh at yourself, life is miserable.
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  • Sophia Jones
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. I'm still sorting out my feelings about this book and I may up the rating in the future. This was a fast and immersive read. The author definitely did her research for the historical aspects of this book and those were my favorite parts of the book. I would read a book by her set just ancient or late antique Jerusalem in a heartbeat. She made it feel so alive and engaged in discussions of what is important in a religion and how the destruction of the Second Temple affected Jewish comm 3.5 stars. I'm still sorting out my feelings about this book and I may up the rating in the future. This was a fast and immersive read. The author definitely did her research for the historical aspects of this book and those were my favorite parts of the book. I would read a book by her set just ancient or late antique Jerusalem in a heartbeat. She made it feel so alive and engaged in discussions of what is important in a religion and how the destruction of the Second Temple affected Jewish communities up until today. However, the part of the book that took place in the present was not as engaging to me. I guess I just wasn't attached to Rachel's family and the plotline interested me less. I also found the ending of the book to be unsatisfying but I'm a person who struggles with open-ended conclusions to books, and if that's not you, you'l probably really enjoy it. I really liked Rachel's character. She was sympathetic and relateable but also burdened and I thought Horn did a great job balancing those two. Rachel's love interest (which is not the right word AT ALL, but there is no term to describe the relationship she has with this man) was also well written. Their relationship was not healthy or admirable, but it was well written and made sense. It was complicated and explored the history and the struggles the two characters had.. So overall, this was an enjoyable read and many aspects of it were fantastic, but I just didn't get drawn in quite enough to give this four or five stars.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    If you and your lover were cursed to never be able to die, how would you spend your eternity? Hopefully more wisely and reflectively than the narrator, Rachel. After living thousands of years, loving a procession of husbands and raising dozens of families, she is still obnoxiously as immature as the 18 year old who made the life for death bargain in the first place. She is forever gasping in surprise, and having the world fall out from beneath her feet at every revelation. This is a quick read, If you and your lover were cursed to never be able to die, how would you spend your eternity? Hopefully more wisely and reflectively than the narrator, Rachel. After living thousands of years, loving a procession of husbands and raising dozens of families, she is still obnoxiously as immature as the 18 year old who made the life for death bargain in the first place. She is forever gasping in surprise, and having the world fall out from beneath her feet at every revelation. This is a quick read, fortunately, and does have a few redeeming ideas, and characters with slightly more depth. If you are a fan of Dara Horn, I imagine you might enjoy this book, but if you are looking for something more literary, look elsewhere.
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    This book explores immortality and the reasons why it isn't everything we've ever hoped for. The parts I found most interesting were the sections where the practicalities of living forever are discussed. I enjoyed the hopeful tone at the end of the book as well.
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  • Bruce Katz
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come.
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