In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife and Loving Frank, this resonant debut spans the years from World War II through the Vietnam War to tell the story of a woman whose scientific ambition is caught up in her relationships with two very different men.
For Meridian Wallace - and many other smart, driven women of the 1940s - being ambitious meant being an outlier. Ever since she was a young girl, Meridian had been obsessed with birds, and she was determined to get her PhD, become an ornithologist, and make her mother's sacrifices to send her to college pay off. But she didn't expect to fall in love with her brilliant physics professor, Alden Whetstone. When he's recruited to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to take part in a mysterious wartime project, she reluctantly defers her own plans and joins him.
What began as an exciting intellectual partnership devolves into a "traditional" marriage. And while the life of a housewife quickly proves stifling, it's not until years later, when Meridian meets a Vietnam veteran who opens her eyes to how the world is changing, that she realizes just how much she has given up. The repercussions of choosing a different path, though, may be too heavy a burden to bear.
Elizabeth Church's stirring debut novel about ambition, identity, and sacrifice will ring true to every woman who has had to make the impossible choice between who she is and who circumstances demand her to be.
"Oh, what an incandescent debut.... Church follows one extraordinary woman who is brave enough to challenge the times, take defiant wing, and chart her own extraordinary flight path.... I never wanted the story to end." (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times best-selling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You)
"[Narrator Jennifer] Van Dyck voices Meridian with depth, articulating her dazzling intelligence and delicately revealing her growing identity as she finally pursues her own passions. Van Dyck also has the knack for convincingly distinguishing each character." (AudioFile magazine)
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The power of observation
- lili kopala
This writer has been there
This is the best novel I've read in a very long time. The author aptly describes the situation intelligent, educated women who married found themselves in not so long ago: stifled, patronized, lonely and angry. This story could have been mine. How this bright woman fought her way out of subjugation to a brilliant, but flawed, man and a society that believed women were nothing but home makers, is a great story. The book is intelligent, literary, and accessible.