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Eternal Life

by Dara Horn

Eternal Life by Dara Horn X
Eternal Life by Dara Horn
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  • Published Jan 2018
    256 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 22 member reviews
for Eternal Life
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  • Paula K. (Champaign, IL)
    Being Alive
    Having admired Dara Horn's previous books I looked forward eagerly to reading Eternal Life. And I was not disappointed. Far from it. In her telling of the story of a life lived for centuries Horn examines the very essence of a life. Is a life without the prospect of dying something to be wished? Is it a blessing or a curse, or something else? Rachel and Elazar traded normal life spans to save their infant son, and although their love for each other intersected throughout the ages, they also went their separate ways, each to marry and have children time and time again; each to lose loved ones time and time again; and each to be reborn again and again. This is a powerful book of Jewish history, of mysticism, of relationships, of love, of death, and of the meaning of life. Horn cements her place as one of our most thoughtful and brilliant contemporary writers with Eternal Life, a book that takes on as many shapes as life itself.
  • Jennifer B. (Oviedo, FL)
    Surprisingly lively
    I surprised myself by choosing to review Eternal Life. It is not a genre that particularly appeals to me for I prefer stories of reality. Nonetheless it was delightful to discover that the characters, time and place were so well constructed I did not mind the bit of fantastical science. Eternal Life is a story of humanity that became vivid as I read and found myself transported in the details of Rachel's life. Dara Horn is a newly found author for me, but one that I shall put on my list to read often. It will be a pleasure to recommend Eternal Life as a choice for my book club.
  • Esther L. (Newtown, PA)
    A Magical Story
    Thank you to BookBrowse for the opportunity to read and review Eternal Life. I loved the story and its main characters, the two thousand year old Rachel and her lover Elazar in Roman occupied Jerusalem. To save the life of their son they must vow before the High Priest to live an eternal life. Rachel smells the offering of her burning hair in the Temple and it is "a smell she would inhale again and again in the years to come,every time she burned herself alive" in order to be reborn. They both live many lives with numerous spouses and children and grandchildren, watching each generation age and die.

    The writing was lyrical and thought provoking. I highly recommend this book!
  • Florence H. (Laguna Woods, CA)
    Eternal life
    Dara Horn asks the reader to accept the premise that a vow to God can both save a life and give another eternal life. At first glance this may sound like a good bargain, but when generation after generation die before you it seems more like a curse.

    The reader gets to know several of Rachel's offspring. The first generation son gives us a glimpse of life 2000 years ago. Many aspects of the Jewish faith are also explored. The granddaughter Hannah of modern times gets the reader to some thinking about DNA research, her specialty.

    The continuing relationship between Rachel and Elazar holds many twists and turns.

    Horn's writing is expressive and memorable. For example. "The hardest part isn't living forever, it is making life worth living".
  • Joy E. (Rockville, MD)
    Eternal Life by Dara Horn
    As Dara Horn imagines in her new book, Eternal Life, living forever is starting over again and again, losing your family in one life and popping up in another place with a new life. Like all her books, this one is grounded in Judaism. The first son, the one his mother, Rachel, saves by taking a vow never to die, is the real historical Yochanan, the primary author of the Mishnah, the basic document for Jewish communal religious practice after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. You could read Rachel's everlasting life as an analog of Yochanan's work. Similarly the contemporary Rachel's son's interest in blockchain or indestructible internet data relates to everlastingness.

    The book abounds with morsels worthy of marking with post-it notes for later contemplation. The opening chapter provides hints of what is to come but is an annoyingly confusing start to a smart and intriguing book. Twinned plots set 2000 years apart force the reader to consider their commonalities. Lots to consider here for readers and book groups with a bent for philosophical discussion.
  • Lola M. (Boise, ID)
    Left Wanting More
    Eternal Life is a classic tale of love found, lost, and found. It's environment had good texture and layers of meaning. The theme has been done many times, but this one held a few twists. I think that this book would have gone deeper, if the intent had been to make it longer. I often found myself wishing for more from some of the characters, and while I understand that maybe it was focused in how Rachel could only really lead a life without firm roots, I wanted more. This story would make a powerful movie.
  • Cynthia S. (Richmond,, CA)
    Eternal Life
    Eternal Life is an interesting look at what it's like to live forever, but it's primary aim is less about how to live a long time, then it is about how to live a blessed life. I enjoyed reading it for the most part, though there were sections where I wondered where the story was headed. The characters are well written and the plot, much of which takes place in a Jewish community in ancient Rome, is grounded in realism despite the story's fantastic elements. Rachel and Elazar and their immortal and very complicated romance is intriguing, but the novel digs deeper to create a rich and very complex exploration of life, love, family, and faith.


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