One restless New York summer in the sixties, the four Gold siblings decide to pool their pocket money and see a psychic. A travelling wise woman sublets a cramped apartment on the lower east side, and for a price will tell your fortune – the exact date of your death.
Studious Varya, curious Daniel, sweet Simon and dreamy Klara all take their prediction in different ways, either dismissive, or pleased, or completely crushed, and its almost as though their foretaste of mortality ends their childhood early. Simon will break his mother’s heart by running away to San Francisco, Klara focuses her ambition on becoming a magician, and the older siblings chafe under the sudden responsibility of their dependent parents.
Its a sprawling, fascinating story, with asides into the characters and their motivations which make you wonder what you would do, if you learned your fate. Each character is deftly written, and as their dates approach they react in ways which are believable and tragic. The book’s 50 year span and settings from New York to Vegas to San Francisco take the reader through a long and enjoyable story which seems too big to fit into one novel. It reminded me of Salinger’s Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, a tender-hearted family saga with all people’s flaws and triumphs. A good book to start the year with!