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Eternal Life

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  3,546 ratings  ·  587 reviews
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 ev ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,546 ratings  ·  587 reviews


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Elyse Walters
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Elaine
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, oh...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 p
...more
Erika Dreifus
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I were in a book club specifically to talk about this book.
Jaime
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan Rice
Everything and everyone blew through the world, leaves carried on wind.


When you live like we do, everything seems connected to everything else, everything reminds you of something.


As this novel gets underway, we're given to understand that there's something unusual about the protagonist, Rachel, a great-grandmother at 84 years old, something fantastical about her relationship to life and death. That much we know from the title and from reviews we may have read. But just what's going on--and wh
...more
Mary
Eternal Life, by Dara Horn, Jan. 2018
Horn’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
...more
Shannon Kirk
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(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
...more
Chaitra
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michaela
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
---- 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

...more
Marika
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Ron Charles
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Michael Austin
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
There is nothing either complicated or original about the plot of Dara Horn's novel, Eternal Life. A person has been alive for two thousand years and cannot die wants to die because, as it turns out, living forever kind of sucks. This is the Greek myth (and Tennyson poem) Tithonus. It is Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man. It is about eleventy thousand vampire movies. And it is Sarah Perry's Melmoth, one of my favorite books from last year, about a woman who denied Christ and had to wander the ear ...more
Jolanta
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Bonnie Shores
I wouldn't normally rate a book that I didn't finish; however, since I "read" more than 5 hours of this just-under-9-hour audiobook, I think that's fair.

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While the premise of Eternal Life was good, it fell flat (imho) in execution. The writing was flawless, but it was boring. To me, it felt like nothing more than a philosophical debate on the merits (or lack thereof) of living forever and nothing more. I've contemplated the topic myself and have come to the conclusion that it would not be a good
...more
Amy
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but I did. Probably around a 3.5. It would have been perfect for the "life" tag, but alas I didn't make it in time. The reason I picked it up, is because it is a community read for our local Jewish Philanthropy association. The last time I went in 2017, this would be the second I believe, the book was Here I am by Jonathan Safran Foer. Over 500 people showed up, and the author spoke. I had loved that book and gave it 5 stars. Hearing the author speak, and ha ...more
Jason Pettus
This is one of the more beautiful books I've read in some time, and a refreshing reminder that there are still occasionally brand-new pleasures to be found in contemporary fiction, even if you have to read a hundred novels with completely expected storylines to find the next unique exception. It's the story of a woman named Rachel, an Israeli Jew living in Roman times, who in a moment of grief is convinced to swear an obscure Hebrew vow that will cure her deathly sick child, but render her immor ...more
Kim McGee
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
M.E. Tudor
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Kate
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
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.
Vicki
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2019, fantasy
Hmm. This is an interesting one.

It is no spoiler by any means to say that Rachel has been alive for over 2,000 years. It's also not really a spoiler to say that somebody else from her time has been, too, and he's more or less been stalking her through the millennia, trying to get her to see things his way.

There’s something not quite right with this book. I mean that only structurally. Something seems off about it. Maybe that's pacing, or maybe that's a lack of impact when something big is revea
...more
Jill Meyer
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
...more
miteypen
I had high hopes for this book because it has such an interesting premise: a woman who cannot die and who has already lived for 2000 years. I’ve read several books with this premise and so far none of them has left me satisfied.

This one came close at times. By the end it seems like the main character, Rachel, has come to terms with, or at least found a way to live, her endless life. But, seriously, it took her 2000 years to get to that point? Or has she just once again started yet another life
...more
Dana
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Karen McQuestion
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jackie Keller
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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. ❤ ...more
Robin Friedman
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rachel Weeping For Her Children

Sometimes reading one book leads directly to another. I had just read a book by a 20th century American philosopher, William E. Hocking, exploring issues surrounding the role of death in human experience and in understanding the meaning of life and the possibility of a form of survival after death. Upon finishing the book, I saw Dara Horn's new novel "Eternal Life" prominently displayed on the new books shelf of the local library. I thought it would make a fitting
...more
Sophia Jones
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Melissa
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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Play Book Tag: Eternal Life by Dara Horn, 3.5 stars 8 19 Mar 03, 2019 12:04PM  

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Dara Horn, the author of the novels All Other Nights, The World to Come, and In the Image, is one of Granta’s "Best Young American Novelists" and the winner of two National Jewish Book Awards. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.
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“Eventually Honi asked God to kill him, because he realized he had become superfluous. Which in fact was the entire purpose of life, to live in such a way that one made oneself superfluous. And therein lay the root of the problem. There was no point in any of it, none at all, unless one had plans to leave.” 1 likes
“No one had any idea of how thick a layer of arbitrary conventions enshrouded a naked soul.” 0 likes
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