Book Review: Chasing Eternity, Diann Ducharme

Chasing Eternity

 

**this review was written as requested by the Publisher in exchange for a copy received via NetGalley**

Description borrowed from NetGalley

Chasing Eternity, Diann Ducharme

“Genetics doctoral student and longevity researcher Ryan Abernathy restricts his calories and his social life; he is terrified of death, but his life, governed by study and exercise, is hollow. The longevity study that he works for receives a tip from an Irish doctor regarding two elderly twin sisters, Cleona and Catherine Owen, who live on a remote island off the western coast of Ireland. Ryan volunteers to investigate, hoping to get DNA samples from the women in his ambitious effort to increase lifespan and fight age-related diseases and just possibly, cure death itself. 

On the island, Ryan meets Cleona’s beautiful yet child-like great-granddaughter, Aisling, who cares for the elderly women but is able to offer Ryan no official age documentation for them. Aisling, lonely for companionship and exhausted from the care-taking of the sick women, draws Ryan into her world by telling him a story that she learned when she was young: that she and her relatives are the final known descendants of an old island clan that, through thousands of years of inbreeding and isolation, managed to achieve remarkable longevity. Ryan doesn’t believe Aisling, but by asking questions of the bar man at the local pub and by stumbling across a time-worn gravestone in the old cemetery, he becomes more curious about the unusual family. As his curiosity increases, so does that of sick Irish nun Sister Ignatius, who believes that she recognizes Catherine as a nun who disappeared from her convent sixty years ago. Both scientist and nun must grapple with their own deep-seated beliefs in order to determine the truth about the people, both past and present, of the Celtic island.”

A world trapped in time would be tagged “off the grid” because in our modern era technology is interlaced with every step we take, everywhere you turn there is more technology being thrown our way.  The question about how that technology affects our lives has been asked by many a scientist over time – as we are inundated more and more with devices, they question whether or not the cell phone we use causes cancer, or that the theory of over use of a gaming system has caused obesity in children.  However, on an island off the coast of Ireland the people who live there simply continue to go on with their lives without the technology that has taken over our very existence – they do not own cell phones, they do not have cable TV, heck they do not even have television sets, maybe a radio or two.  One family, the Owens’ exist without even the basic comforts of today’s era – electricity, running water, etc. Is this possible in today’s world? Well yes it would seem so – instead of news traveling via Facebook, twitter, or even Instagram, news on this island travels in the old fashioned way – mouth to mouth.  So then when the news that two women living on this island have been reported to have lived well over a century reaches the states and one Ryan Abernathy, a Genetics Doctoral Student, time for them has passed slowly – while the rest of the world moves on, their world seems to stand still.

Ryan Abernathy rarely steps outside of his self-imposed rigid routine, a man almost self-separated from society is sent to this Island to investigate these women he is forced to change his routine in exchange for information and the closeness of the community.  His beliefs that our lives and the longevity of our lives is pre-determined by our DNA, but yet there’s something special about this Island, he can sense that, as a result he begins to question the very thing he has known his whole life – Genetics.  Being forced outside of his comfort zone he begins to listen to Aisling’s stories of the island, its inhabitants and the history that comes along with that and in turn he begins to question everything he’s thought to have believed.  There comes a time in our lives when we all begin to question everything we’ve been taught, be it simple lessons we learned as child, or the more complex ethical questions that arise when we see something happening that does not seem right – Ryan has come to that crossroad in his life – his story is about to change and the path his life is on might just be drastically changed.  His deep – seated beliefs begin to be turned on their heads by Aisling’s stories, by the commentary of the people living on the island, and the word that Catherine Owen might just be a nun who disappeared from a convent some years prior.

I was constantly amazed at how well this story came together, initially when I began reading it I thought, ok we have your run of the mill romance novel, but I was pleasantly surprised when there seemed to be yes a romance story, but also a story of an island that has stepped almost out of time and is existing almost in a time warp.  I enjoyed the way the author pulled the story line together and wove it her world into existence, I could almost feel the rain on my face, smell the ocean breezes and be in place on this island! It was amazing to be.  The transformation of Ryan’s character from a self-disciplined student who did not have a cause to champion to a man who found his cause to champion was amazing.  His persona grew and changed in such a way that made him a much better person in the end.

I highly recommend this novel for anyone who loves a good “telling.”

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