Are the Devil and God the Same Entity?
As the novel opens, Rachel is the 84-year-old matriarch of her family. But she has a secret, she’s a lot older than that. Two thousand years ago in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son. In return for his life, she cannot die. To be more specific, she can seemingly die by fire, but soon after awakens into a new life most often in a new country. Thus, she has lived a multitude of lives. In the first pages of the book we learn about that first son, her twentieth son, her sixty-third son, and her current son, a “fifty-six-year-old disaster.”
I loved this book because even with all this experience, Rachel is still trying to figure out the meaning of life. Indeed, this is the opening line of the book: “Either everything matters, or everything is an outrageous waste of time.”
A bit later in the first chapter, she continues to ponder this: “Trivial details flowed through her days. Long ago, when the details were different, she had wondered if those details that filled every minute of every day were actually concealing something, something large and still and sacred. Many days and years and people had passed before she understood that the details themselves were the still and sacred things, that there was nothing else, that the curtain of daily life itself was holy, that behind it was only a void. Yet some days she still wondered.”
Questions from the sublime to the ridiculous fill subsequent chapters. Rachel asks if life has meaning without death. Equally, she asks how it is possible to screw up as a mom even with centuries of practice.
It’s an often-funny book with lots of serious issues to think about. I loved every word, and I am glad I read it.
Speaking of such, my path to this book is worthy of mention. It involves another book I read, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. In that book, Addie is character who cannot die. She arrived at immortality thanks to a deal she made with the devil. And in that book, Addie has been alive for over three hundred years. When I mentioned that story to a friend, she one-upped me by telling me about Eternal Life and Rachel’s two thousand years of existence.
A big difference between the books is that Addie made her deal with the devil while Rachel made her deal with God via the high priest, Hanania. This turns out to be a truly bad deal – in return for not having to watch her first son die, she has centuries of watching husbands and other children die.
Since immortality for both women comes with heavy burdens, it seems more likely to me that the devil would offer such a deal, but in Eternal Life, it was God! This makes me wonder, therefore, if God and the devil are the same entity! Clearly, I have another serious issue to ponder after reading this book.