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Again and Again by Jonathan Evison

Contemporary fiction

Again and Again

by Jonathan Evison

Excellent choice

Excellent choice

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Quick take

In this moving paean to storytelling, an old man regales his nursing assistant with tales that blur fact and fantasy.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Nonlinear_Timeline

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Unreliable_Narrator

    Unreliable narrator

  • Illustrated icon, Underdog

    Underdog

Synopsis

Eugene “Geno” Miles is living out his final days in a nursing home, bored, curmudgeonly, and struggling to connect with his new nursing assistant, Angel, who is understandably skeptical of Geno’s insistence on having lived not just one life but many—all the way back to medieval Spain, where, as a petty thief, he first lucked upon true love only to lose it, and spend the next thousand years trying to recapture it.

Who is Geno? A lonely old man clinging to his delusions and rehearsing his fantasies, or a legitimate anomaly, a thousand-year-old man who continues to search for the love he lost so long ago?

As Angel comes to learn the truth about Geno, so, too, does the reader, and as his miraculous story comes to a head, so does the biggest truth of that love—timeless, often elusive—is sometimes right in front of us.

Content warning

This book contains mentions of child abuse.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Again and Again.

Again and Again

The Most Beautiful of All Possible Worlds

Don’t tell me life is short. With the benefit of my considerable experience, or should I say in spite of it, I’m still willing to buy that life is beautiful if you dress it up right, that people are basically good, or that love can save you. I still want to believe. Tell me that life is meaningful, and you’ve got my ear. Tell me that life is a journey, and I’ll nod in agreement. But try convincing me that said journey is short, and you’ve lost me; that’s one cliché I can’t abide. If you think life is short, just wait. One of these days it might not end for you; it’ll just keep going and going and you’ll see that life is not a breathless sprint to the grave, gone in a heartbeat, but an odyssey that stretches on and on into eternity. Once it starts, it never ends, not even if you want it to. I should know.

I have gone by other names: Euric, Pietro, Kiri, Amura, York, and Whiskers. Currently I answer to the name of Eugene, though the attendants here at Desert Greens call me Mr. Miles. In August, I turn 106 years old. Wow, you’ll say, what a full life! Impressive! What’s your secret? But the fact is, I’m ready to die. There is nothing holding me here. I only hope that I am not born again, for I don’t think I could endure another loveless existence.

As far as I know, I first came to live on the Iberian Peninsula in the town of Seville, or Ishbiliyah as it was then known, during the golden age of Abd al-Rahman III in al-Andalus. If you’ve read your history, you probably know something about Spain under the Moors: how it was a global seat of wisdom, a paradise for scholars and poets and artists, philosophers, historians, and musicians, how Arabic was the language of science—mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. You’ve likely heard about the wondrous architecture of the mosques with their flowing arabesques and honeycombed vaults, their domed tops echoing the hypnotic suras of the Quran. You’ve probably heard about the great walled alcazabas, and the splendor of the riads and gardens. That is where the story of Euric and Gaya begins.

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Why I love it

When a book keeps me turning pages long after bedtime, I often ask myself why. Is there a delicious mystery demanding to be solved? A heart-pounding stretch of action and tension? Or is it simply a superbly told story granting me temporary residence in a world I don’t want to leave?

In the case of Jonathan Evison’s Again and Again: All of the above.

We don’t know who Geno Miles is. Geno Miles is a present-day centenarian who keeps his nursing-home staff on their toes with his curmudgeonly quirks while carrying deep wounds in his soul. Geno Miles is a street urchin who runs afoul of the powerful in medieval Spain, growing into his own bravery and risking everything for his one true love. Geno Miles is—and, honestly, this one is my favorite—Oscar Wilde’s cat, selectively spoiled in an apartment in Chelsea, believing his owner might be a reincarnated version of that one true love.

Centuries separate Geno from his love, but he still believes. It’s a fantastic story. Compelling enough to draw in Angel, a young man who works at the nursing home and forges an unlikely friendship with Geno. Compelling enough to keep me, as a reader, up until dawn, unable to put the book down.

Hope. That’s it, I think. We’ve got mystery and action and unforgettable characters but there is also an unbreakable thread of hope running through Again and Again. I can’t think of anything our world needs more right now.

Member ratings (5,588)

  • Janis G.

    Waco, TX

    This book is so well written. I found myself wanting to believe in Eugene’s stories. I love how all the ‘pieces’ fit together at the end. Read this book! It won’t disappoint!! Read in one setting.

  • Suzanne C.

    Milford, MA

    No matter the past lives for Eugene/Euric, it’s the readers choice how you see it. The most meaningful part of this book was the friendship between he and “Angel” his room cleaning, caregiver friend.

  • Charlie P.

    Royal Oak, MI

    Eugene Miles claims to have lived a thousand years. It’s in his last “incarnation” living in elder care, that the reclusive 92-year old opens up to his housekeeper. The rich relationship is indelible.

  • Lu A.

    Duluth, GA

    I think I immediately became enamored with the narrator that the truth didn’t even matter because you knew his character. It’s such a heart wrenching but also heart warming story about living for love

  • Ashley C.

    Huntsville, AL

    Eugene is lonely, and Angel is looking for something missing from his life. Angel takes the time to humor an old man, and in that connection, there is care that serves them both. A poignant story - ❤️

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Contemporary fiction
View all
The Last Love Note
Anita de Monte Laughs Last
Honey
The Leftover Woman
Interesting Facts about Space
Bye, Baby
Swan Song
The Connellys of County Down
Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life
Jackpot Summer
Adelaide
The Collected Regrets of Clover
Again and Again
Evil Eye
Black Cake
Maame
Romantic Comedy
Someone Else’s Shoes
Once There Were Wolves
We Are the Brennans
The Bad Muslim Discount
What Comes After
Olga Dies Dreaming
Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
Monster in the Middle
My Dark Vanessa
Nine Perfect Strangers
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany
The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
Honey Girl
In Every Mirror She's Black
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?
Sankofa
The Unsinkable Greta James
The Love of My Life
The Five-Star Weekend
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
The Wishing Game
Behold the Dreamers
The Mothers
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Little Fires Everywhere
The Music Shop
Queenie
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
The Reckless Oath We Made
Dear Edward
When We Were Vikings
The Girl with the Louding Voice
Anxious People
A Good Neighborhood
Big Summer
All Adults Here
Happy & You Know It
Friends and Strangers
The Comeback
True Story
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Troubles in Paradise
White Ivy
This Close to Okay
The Chicken Sisters
The Prophets
The Kindest Lie
In a Book Club Far Away
The Other Black Girl
Apples Never Fall
A Quiet Life
We Are the Light
The Most Likely Club
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
When We Were Bright and Beautiful
The Hotel Nantucket