Audio Book Review: The Immortalists: A novel by Chloe Benjamin

Release Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 11 hours 30 minutes
Narrator: Maggie Hoffman
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Audible | Kindle  | Paperback


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.

The 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 struggles to maintain security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

Both a dazzling family love story and 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.


This story starts off in New York in 1969 when we meet the four Gold children from a religious Jewish family - Varya is 13, Daniel is 11, Klara is 9 and Simon is 7.  The children hear about a psychic that can predict the date you are going to die. They all decide to go and meet with her individually.  They don't seem to share their information with each other until much later.

Does the information these kids received as children effect the course of their lives? Do they base their decisions on when they are supposed to die? Did this psychic use the power of suggestion to steer the course of their lives? Or did she hope that knowing when they would die would help them to live?

This book is broken down into different parts, each part the tale of one of the Gold children. You don't know the date of any of their deaths until their story is told and only once it is over to you find out if the psychic was correct. I don't want to say much more since I don't want to spoil anything.

This is a unique story that really makes you think about what it means to live. What constitutes a full life? The length or the way we live it? Beautifully written and very engrossing book I really enjoyed it and will be thinking about my answers to some of these questions for a while.  This would make an excellent book group book as I could see a lot of lively discussion coming from it.