Author – Chloe Benjamin
Published – March 2018
Genre – Fiction
I’m making a concerted effort to clear up all my outstanding reviews before the start of the next decade (😱). You can see how far behind I am – I read this just after it was published in March 2018. My intention was to do a few short reviews but as I’ve picked this up and can remember some of my thoughts I may go on a little longer.
This isn’t a book that I might normally read but sometimes a review copy prods you to read outside of your normal genre. This is more along the lines of women’s fiction rather than crime fiction and has a historical slant to it; it follows the fortunes of young four siblings who in New York 1969 visit a fortune teller, a woman who will supposedly tell them the dates of their deaths. So this question forms the premise of the book – if you know the date of your death does this become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Do you still have free will, or are the choices you make and the way you live determined by the knowledge of how long you have before you die?
Which all sounds a bit deep, but armed with whatever the fortune teller has told them the siblings embark on their lives – all vividly portrayed against a near-history background. Of course for the reader the knowledge of the period they’re living through makes you want to challenge the choices some of them make and you can see disaster looming before they can!
Each character is complex and three-dimensional, their lives lived an a richly atmospheric landscape drawn by the author, all against a background that encompasses their religion (Judaism) and evokes the period of recent history (a risk when most readers will have lived through it themselves). I became really invested in the characters and their fates.
Each of the four deals with the knowledge they’re given at the beginning in completely contrasting ways and you’re still left to consider the question of destiny versus choice. But this isn’t all the book is about – it’s about family and belief and emotion and drama, a potted family saga told over forty years.