Spanning two thousand years, The Everlasting follows four characters whose struggles resonate across the centuries: an early Christian child martyr; a medieval monk on crypt duty in a church; a Medici princess of Moorish descent; and a contemporary field biologist conducting an illicit affair.
... a rare book whose ambition is matched by its craft and emotional weight. Combining the gravity of history with the tribulations of faith and the wit and wisdom of Satan himself, this is a book that somehow retains its power even as it hops across time to tell four very different stories that nonetheless share a common, human heart ... There’s no weak link here, no character you’d rather leave out of this journey, because Smith’s prose is so precise and evocative that each narrative feels as precious as a holy relic ... Then there’s the cutting, heartbroken voice of Satan interjecting into each narrative, tying them all together with his own perception of human history and his own particularly bittersweet relationship with God ... The result of all these different threads is an exquisite tapestry of history, religion and heartbreak that’s perfect for historical fiction and fabulism fans alike.
... ambitious ... Readers who are drawn to history for its grand, sweeping scale will find Smith’s premise irresistible: a quartet of characters whose stories span almost 2,000 years and whose experiences delve into the chaotic, multilayered, enduring heart of Rome ... In Smith’s novel, Shelley’s four ways of characterizing Rome act as more than a colorful swirl of imagery. They provide a structural conceit that allows Smith to organize two millennia’s worth of material about Rome’s history and people ... Whether the novel is enhanced by Satan’s commentary is open to debate. Some readers may find the bracketed asides an unnecessary device, while others will likely delight in Satan’s wit and insight into the novel’s protagonists. Still others may argue that Satan becomes a protagonist. But there’s no denying that the substance of his commentary sparks and surprises ... After a languid start, The Everlasting builds cohesion and momentum through small but surprising moments of linkage among the characters’ stories and the eras in which they live. A gifted stylist, Smith crafts the novel with a greater emphasis on lyricism than on any particular plotline, spinning a complex, memorable tale of the vast universe contained in the life of a single city.