The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

Anxiety induced insomnia is bad but having The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin to keep me company all night was bright spot on an otherwise miserable evening.

On a lark the four Gold children go to meet a fortune teller who tells them the day that they will die. The novel follows the lives of Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon after they have been given their death date. Benjamin does a great job weaving the stories of the four siblings together in a cohesive and authentic way. Her writing provoked so many questions in my own mind. What would I do? Would I believe something like this?

The story made me think of the Death Clock. When I was in middle school, the Death Clock was a craze for awhile. I remember entering my birthday and gender and then being horrified when an answer was unceremoniously spit out. How did it know?! I didn’t even tell it that much information. I was 11 or 12 when I had my first brush with the Death Clock and it haunted me for months.

At it’s heart, the novel focuses on the role of fate and our decisions. Are the Gold children destined to die as predicted by the gypsy? Or did their choices, in reaction to the prediction, lead them in a direction they otherwise would not have gone? Chloe Benjamin’s novel creates an interesting space for the reader to reflect on their own ideas about fate and whether the choices we make are really are own or predetermined in the stars.

 

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Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Holy Schnikes! I did not see that coming.

I had seen a lot of press when Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff was first released last year. I followed along and added her to my #TBR list but never made any moves on it. She is by no means a new writer. This was her third novel.

However, the description of the novel was always lackluster to me. A story following a couple? Meh. I’ll read it, when I read it.

But this was so much more than that. It was a deep dive into a relationship from each person’s perspective. It was a study of how our younger lives shape our later lives. It was a story about the stories we choose to tell ourselves and believe about ourselves rather than relying on the truth.

The novel was constructed in a unique way. It follows Lotto throughout his life. Then it starts over following his wife Mathilde. The reader was reading the same story but vastly different perspectives and motives for behavior. It felt like I was reading two very different books but each book would not be complete without the counterpart.

I cannot wait to read her new short story collection Florida. It was released this month and it is the Odyssey Bookshop’s First Editions Book Club’s July selection. Very excited to get my hands on it and dive into it.