I was so deeply moved by this book. Maugham's writing is so astonishing- I reread sentences, paragraphs just savoring and marveling at his gracious, cI was so deeply moved by this book. Maugham's writing is so astonishing- I reread sentences, paragraphs just savoring and marveling at his gracious, clean, beautiful prose. The story is so rich with character and theme; it is utterly romantic in view but visionary in context. It is ironic that as a writer Maugham was so excoriated by his contemporaries: it is his voice that makes me ache to write...
Plotwise, well, I was with it until Larry wanders off to India to seek enlightenment. That bit was tedious and Larry post-India is an annoying washout for a wee while. Maugham inserts himself to play a confidante and voice of morality; I'd rather he left his characters to discover the truth without his intervention. But gorgeous nonetheless. More Maugham on the menu!...more
The quiet, spare beauty of New Mexico's mesas, and the changing desert light that reflects off spring snow, shimmers on pinon needles and marches releThe quiet, spare beauty of New Mexico's mesas, and the changing desert light that reflects off spring snow, shimmers on pinon needles and marches relentlessly toward the heat of August 1945, create a vivid backdrop to a story about man's most terrible hour- the creation of the atomic bomb.
This is a complex and morally ambiguous story that is told simply, through the perspectives of Leo Kavan, a Jewish physicist and Czech national who has abandoned his post at the Los Alamos research complex, and Eleanor Garrigue, an American artist who finds refuge and creative muse in the high desert near Santa Fe.
Leo's and Eleanor's stories unfold in different worlds: a gifted scientist who is mentored by Einstein, Leo narrowly escaped as Czechoslovakia was crushed under Nazi jackboots, but he is losing hope of finding his cherished sister who was left behind; Eleanor is a successful artist, yet breathless under the grip of her husband's power and jealousy. She lives in fear of a telegram that will inform her of the execution of her brother, a POW in Japan. Gallagher deftly uses historical events to draw their paths closer together until they collide on the banks of an arroyo.
A mature and graceful love story tenuously frames the drama. The author creates a believable emotional and physical coup de foudre between two adults whose professions center on creativity and whose adult lives have brought great success and harrowing loss. Leo's growing realization that the weapon, which he hoped would mean the end to the Nazi regime and the persecution of Jews in Europe, will likely be the means of far greater and longer lasting destruction. His character brings a sense of humanity to the inner moral and ethical battles that must have been waged inside the Los Alamos compound and inside the scientists' hearts.
Gallagher lets loose with too much technical detail about the crafting of the atomic bomb- space that could have been better spent in character development- but she also opens a fascinating window into Los Alamos. This novel's rays of light and vacuums of shadow characterize the dilemmas and decisions of the individuals who shaped our modern history. ...more
Such a beautifully written book, a remarkable debut for this Illinois author. The story unfolds in three eras: 1944, when a Canadian military crew craSuch a beautifully written book, a remarkable debut for this Illinois author. The story unfolds in three eras: 1944, when a Canadian military crew crash lands in Newfoundland and the crew's young wives in Ontario await the news of their husbands' fates; 1967 Chicago as these families' lives become deeply intertwined; 1999 Ontario- a return to where their shared histories began. The story examines love, disappointment, passion and change in relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, friends. The characters are wholly rendered and believable, as is the original story. I look forward to more from this strong and compassionate voice.
Outstanding debut novel from this Scottish author. Penney captures the voices, terrain, and myriad of cultures of the remote and vast Hudson Bay terriOutstanding debut novel from this Scottish author. Penney captures the voices, terrain, and myriad of cultures of the remote and vast Hudson Bay territory. The bitter chill of winter 1867 matches the chill of murder and suspicion that invades a tiny town. An excellent read!...more