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The Wives of Los Alamosby TaraShea Nesbit
Synopses & Reviews
Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago — and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with P.O. box addresses in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of a project that didn't exist as far as the public knew. Though they were strangers, they joined together — adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, full of the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery.
And while the bomb was being invented, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed from an abandoned school on a hill into a real community: one that was strained by the words they couldn't say out loud, the letters they couldn't send home, the freedom they didn't have. But the end of the war would bring even bigger challenges to the people of Los Alamos, as the scientists and their families struggled with the burden of their contribution to the most destructive force in the history of mankind.
The Wives of Los Alamos is a novel that sheds light onto one of the strangest and most monumental research projects in modern history. It's a testament to a remarkable group of women who carved out a life for themselves, in spite of the chaos of the war and the shroud of intense secrecy.
“In this fascinating and artful debut, TaraShea Nesbit gives voice to the women closest to one of gravest and most telling moments in our collective history: the development and testing of the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos. Tender and mundane details of marriage and domesticity quietly collide with the covert and solemn work at hand. With chilling implications and charged, sure-footed prose, this is a novel — and writer — of consequence.” Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
"The author's writing — by turns touching, confiding, and matter-of-fact — perfectly captures the commonalities of the hive mind while also emphasizing the little things that make each wife dissimilar from the pack. This effect intensifies once the nature of the Los Alamos project is revealed and the men and their families grapple with the burden of their new creation. Engrossing, dense, and believable.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Astounding....The wives emerge with strong, individual personalities, and the reader feels immersed in a very real world....Nesbit brings alive questions of war and power that dog us to this day.” Booklist, starred review
“This well-researched and fast-paced novel gives a panoramic view of the lives of ordinary women whose husbands worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. Recommended both for its important subject matter and for the author's vivid storytelling.” Library Journal
"Hypnotic and filled with elegaic details; Nesbit offers fascinating and disturbing insight into the secret life of the Los Alamos families." Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles
“I am in awe of this novel. TaraShea Nesbit's brave and brilliant choice of point of view for these women living inside their earth-shattering secret crucible brings home to us in the fullest way possible that our personal story is never just ours. The Wives of Los Alamos will be read and re-read and remembered.” Gail Godwin, author of Flora
A bold and emotionally charged debut novel told in the collective voices of the wives of the men who created the atom bomb.
About the Author
TaraShea Nesbit's prose, poetry, and criticism have been featured in The Iowa Review, Quarterly West, Hayden's Ferry Review and other literary journals. She teaches creative writing and literature courses at the University of Denver and the University of Washington in Tacoma, facilitates writing groups at The Gathering Place--a day shelter for women, children, and transgender individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness--and is the nonfiction editor for Better: Culture & Lit. A graduate of the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis, TaraShea is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Denver, where she is a Presidential Fellow.
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