Eternal Life

Eternal Life

A Novel

Large Print - 2018
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Ever since she made a deal to save her son's life in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, Rachel has been doomed to live eternally, but as her descendants develop new technologies for immortality, she realizes that, for them to live fully, she must die.
At the heart of Horn's funny and compassionate novel is a 2,000-year-old Jewish mother seeking reasons for living, some way of dying, and help for her 56-year-old son who lives in her basement. Rachel's story begins in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, where at 16 she marries her father's apprentice although she loves the high priest's son, Elazar, and is pregnant with Elazar's baby. Two years later, when the child falls ill, Rachel makes a bargain with God: she must give up not her life but her death in exchange for the child's survival. The child survives, and Rachel endures successive lifetimes over the next 20 centuries, each lifetime immediately following the previous. Elazar, having made a similar bargain, pursues Rachel through time, occasionally finding her, though never for long. Now in 21st-century New York, Rachel's current form (or "version," as she calls it) is an 84-year-old widow. She thinks she has found a way to finally die, but first she wants to see her current problem child, the one in the basement, get a life. She also wishes to protect her granddaughter, a medical researcher dangerously close to discovering the truth behind Rachel's unusual DNA. Horn (A Guide for the Perplexed) weaves historical detail and down-to-earth humor into this charming Jewish Groundhog Day spanning two millennia.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine :, Wheeler Publishing, a part of Gale, a Cengage Company,, 2018
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781432849139
1432849131
Branch Call Number: LARGE PRINT Horn 2018
Characteristics: 369 pages (large print) ; 22 cm

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bingblank
Apr 08, 2020

When I read the summery of this novel on the book jacket, I thought the concept of this story was one that has been used before, yet it seemed like it had a very creative spin to it. Interested, I picked it up. And it did not disappoint! I myself have always wished humans could live longer than what we do, but after reading this book I can see why we don’t. Dara Horn really drives home the thoughts, emotions, and conflicts that arise when presented with the idea of living forever. The author made me feel very proud of the main character, Rachel, who was able to put every past behind her and start over and over and over again. I can’t imagine the devastation of losing literally everyone you love, and then having to push it all behind you in order to make life worth living again. The power of these feelings really came through in the pages. If we don’t keep growing and changing, what’s the purpose in living?
The historical settings were extremely fascinating, though, I think I could have used a little more description because it was all hard for me to imagine, for some reason. Unless I missed it, I feel like little info is given about all the places Rachel had lived during her 2000 years – all I remember reading about is her first few hundred years, and then maybe her last hundred years. Where did she go in all the years in between? I think the author could have expanded on that a bit. The story also goes back and forth through time, describing different times of Rachel’s life and then getting back to the present. I was ok with this, but the way it was done had me confused about some of the information for almost half the book. I wish maybe the first 100 pages had been in chronological order, starting with some background on the beginning of all the events. Then I think the rest of the book and some things that happened and that were said would have made much more sense to me.
There’s also a complicated love story here. And while I completely understand why it was complicated, I don’t understand why Rachel had such an extreme love-hate relationship with Elazer. While reading about her feelings, she flip-flopped so much it was like flipping a light switch on and off. Rachel would love Elazer, and then abruptly the light switch flipped and she’d go back to hating him, and I wouldn’t know quite why. I would have liked to have seen a little more insight, a little more description as to why she was still feeling this love-hate in the present time. I guess they were just two different people with different ideas? And there were so many parts of the novel that had very long descriptions of what was happening, and then suddenly with one line it jumped into something else, and then that would be it. So I guess you could say, some of the plot’s actions were like flipping a light switch too.
All in all, it was a good, fun, fascinating read. If you can make sense of some of the time jumps and enjoy the shifting love story, then I think this would be a good book for you!

c
chinook25
Jul 05, 2019

Disappointing in that the book could have been much much more. For someone immortal Rachel's life has two events, now and the Roman period of Jewish life. The potential of writing about the life of a single woman through the last two thousand years could have been very rich and informative. As it is the last chapter is very disappointing. She is very sad and wants to die; then she goes through a renewal serves in the Israel army, finds another man, has another baby and all is good again. What!!! What is the foundation and cause for all this renewal and all this change. The end challenges the entire premise of the book and as such disappointed me. A more consistent and thoughtful work on this premise is "All men are mortal" by Simone de Beauvoir. She consistently thoughtfully deals with the premise that enteral life could actually be boring.

g
galveston
Feb 26, 2019

loved it!!!!! now i'm reading all her other books.

Hillsboro_StephanieC Dec 19, 2018

Rachel and Elazar have been tied together for two thousand years, bound by a curse that gave them eternal life. At turns funny and bittersweet, written beautifully, with a significant historical perspective, this novel is absolutely brilliant, and a true treat to experience.

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