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Universe of Two: A Novel

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  47 reviews
From the critically acclaimed author of The Bakers Secret and The Curiosity comes a novel of conscience, love, and redemptiona fascinating fictionalized account of the life of Charlie Fisk, a gifted mathematician who was drafted into Manhattan Project and ordered against his morals to build the detonator for the atomic bomb. With his musician wife, he spends his postwar ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Expected publication: May 5th 2020 by William Morrow
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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Sue
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read all of Stephen Kiernan's books so I knew I was going to enjoy Universe of Two before I turned the first page. What I didn't realize was how deeply the book would affect me and that I'd still be thinking about it a week after I finished it. This is a beautifully written book about love and guilt and redemption.

The year is 1943 and Charlie meets Brenda when he comes into the music store that her mother owns and she works at. At first, she didn't think much of him. She was more
...more
Karen M
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Parts of this book made me sad and parts were just plain wonderful. I really enjoyed reading this book.

This, I think, may be the first time Ive read a book where one POV, Brenda, is written in the first person and the other POV, Charlie, is written in the third person. That change between first and third person worked very well in this story because Brenda is telling us about the past and Charlie is her past.

The author did such an incredible job in defining these two characters that I almost
...more
Michelle
I honestly have no idea why I cant get into this book.
I hate to stop a book before I finish it.
Theres not a thing wrong with this book.
Im just over halfway through and I cant get into it.
I think its the talk of Charlies job that doesnt work for me.
I can tell everyone else who read this book loves it, but Im around 200 pages in and I cant stick with it.
I especially hate to do that with an early release. I always appreciate getting to read a book early and I dont want an early review to reflect
...more
Alison Smith
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book in a giveaway and I really enjoyed reading it. The chapters alternate between the two protagonists perspective; Brenda is written in first person and Charlie in third person. I wondered about the reason for the change until the end of the book, when we realize that the entire story is Brendas to tell.

The heart of the narrative revolves around their budding romance as Charlie questions the moral and ethical repercussions of the atomic bomb. Charlie feels personally responsible for
...more
Heather
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not a huge fan of historical fiction but I fell in love with this love story! Universe of Two tells the story of Charles Fish and his part in developing the atomic bomb. As the story begins you meet Brenda Dubie, a girl who becomes the love of Fish's life. Brenda helps run the family music store while her father and brother are away at war. Charles frequents the store and their love story begins. Charles is taken away to New Mexico to help in the war efforts at home. Their love story ...more
Emily
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful story! When a fictional book is based on a real person it's sometimes hard for me to focus because I keep wondering how much of it is real and what was made up by the author. That wasn't the case for me with Universe of Two, because it's so sweet and romantic that it really sucks you in. You wouldn't expect a story about Project Y to work well as a love story but I thought it was wonderful. Do yourself a favor and listen to the music mentioned in this book as you read. All ...more
Cynthia
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brenda and Charlie meet in Brenda's family music store.
Charlie, who would graduate from Harvard if he had remained in school at the age of 18, was employed in a math project in the Fall of 1943.
Brenda has a view of herself as a superior person.
Charlie, who is mild mannered, is working for the US Government, but he does not understand what he is doing.
Charlie ends up going to Los Alamos.
Brenda gets a job as an organist in the town near Los Alamos.
This is a story of two people coming of age during
...more
Dan Radovich
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Kiernan's talent for storytelling since his first novel. Very solid stories, peopled with believable characters in often times hard to believe situations. His skilled hand with spinning each different novel makes you understand and believe as you close each book. UNIVERSE OF TWO is no different, and is equally as rewarding as his previous tales. World War II is raging in Europe and the Pacific and fresh out of Harvard, math-wiz Charlie Fish is brought into The Manhattan ...more
Rachel
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan is an amazing historical fiction that is placed mainly during the latter years of WWII in the US and beings to light a lot of the backstory in regards to the Manhattan Project: the creation, testing, and eventual use of the atomic bomb. This book, to me, is really two stories interweaving into one gorgeous novel.

We are introduced to Brenda and Charlie and get to dive into their respective lives and viewpoints in alternating chapters. Through Charlie, we are
...more
Kate
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance copy of this book from Harper Collins by way of the The Book Club Girls & NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

It's a tense time in the United States, World War II rages on overseas with family members separated by the conflict. Charlie Fish, recently from Harvard University, finds himself working on increasingly vague & secret math problems in Chicago where he meets musician Brenda Dubie. Their courtship rides the waves of the war & Charlie's work until he is
...more
Danelle The Librarian
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Who is an ally? Who is an enemy? Do we have to kill millions of people every few decades to figure that out?
Every once in a while a reader hits magic, and reads what is, in her eyes, a perfect book. This was that book for me. I dont know how to give voice to what I loved so much. The story, the characters, the settings, the urgency of the development of the atomic bomb- it all worked for me.
Brenda Dubie is an impetuous young woman living in Chicago during World War Two, when Charlie Fish
...more
Kelly
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
World War II fiction seems to be quite possibly one of the most cliché genres there is right now. Barely create a plucky heroine, with little to no character development, throw her into a perilous situation in Europe preferably Francis, followed by England and Germany, and then find out how she survived the war by her female granddaughter retracing her history. The Universe of Two is fantastic precisely because it does none of these things. The story starts with Charlie meeting Brenda in her ...more
Beth
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Stephen P Kiernan alternates chapters in UNIVERSE OF TWO: every other chapter is a third-person account, historical fiction about Charlie Fish (said to be based on the actual mathematician Charles Fisk) and his key contributions to building the atomic bomb. And every other chapter is the first-person account of Brenda Dubie and her romance with Charlie Fish, a story that is, as far as I can tell, fiction with some real historical details thrown in here and there.

Charlie's chapters are full of
...more
Rachel
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan is an amazing historical fiction that is placed mainly during the latter years of WWII in the US and beings to light a lot of the backstory in regards to the Manhattan Project: the creation, testing, and eventual use of the atomic bomb. This book, to me, is really two stories interweaving into one gorgeous novel.

We are introduced to Brenda and Charlie and get to dive into their respective lives and viewpoints in alternating chapters. Through Charlie, we are
...more
Bridget
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found the Universe of Two to be a book that I will remember for a long time. On one level it's the story of a romance between a young couple during World war II. She's a feisty, spoiled young woman very full of herself. He's a young, away from home, introspective young man. They meet in her family's organ showroom. It seems that nothing will come of this meeting, but something does. As the novel progresses so too do their feelings for each other. But it's not just a romance. Charlie Fish is ...more
Myra
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was so captivated by this book. The research into the history of the Manhattan Project and the men who designed the atom bomb is superb. The fictional characters in the story are well-developed and truly reflect the 1940s wartime culture. I could hear their voices and feel their hearts. Charlie, who is working on developing the bomb, must choose between following his conscience and doing what others perceive as his duty to his country. Charlie struggles with thid moral dilemma and must face ...more
Kim McGee
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A riveting story of the unintended masterminds behind the creation of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos and what working on this did to them. Charlie Fish was not Brenda Dubie's idea of a boyfriend but there was something endearing about him. Their relationship began in Chicago and continued in New Mexico where Brenda followed Charlie. The emotional toll that creating this ultimate destruction is evident on every page not to mention how it affected every relationship they were in during and after ...more
Cheryl
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first 95% was superb. The descriptions of the times, technology, mathematics, emotions, places, and people are excellent. You wrapped the human element around the Manhattan Project. So, forgive me for saying, that you did not give me enough time to wind down to the story ending. You gave plenty of hints with Brenda's hindsight comments throughout the book and the ending was satisfying from a summative perspective. However, I really wanted more writing about ...more
Debbie
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author does a great job fictionalizing the making of the atomic bomb. Charlie, a student with great physics knowledge, is sent to Los Alamos to do his part without fully realizing what he is helping accomplish. His girlfriend, Brenda, also plays a part in encouraging him to be a man and due his part in the war effort. After all the devastation caused as well as the thousands who died, the couple has to try to reconcile the past and try to live a meaningful life. The characters are fully ...more
Gail
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Universe of Two is a great story combining historical fiction and romance. Brenda is working in her family store selling musical instruments when a young man comes in and asks her to play for him. They begin a friendship, and the relationship is developing nicely when the young man is sent to New Mexico to work on a project. The young man, Charlie Fish, is based on an actual scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project. Charlie is very conflicted about the work he is doing and how it will ...more
imabookmagnet
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a story. I thought there was great character development, I feel I knew what I needed to know about the main characters, and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop. Confession time- I rarely read the parts after the story is over- the acknowledgements and such, but for some reason I did after this and Im not sure if Im happy or sad that I did. In this case, I am just accepting the story for what it is- a historical fiction novel. Now excuse me while I go back in to the rabbit ...more
Laura Trombley
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved "The Baker's Secret" so much more than this book. I picked this book because it was by the same author but I was a little disappointed. The characters are interesting and so is the storyline, but by design you don't like the main character. She develops too late. The story and characters don't stick to a natural arc they do and say things that are not in their character. If you like WWII stories or organs you might like this book more than I did, still, we are under quarantine and I have ...more
Marjorie
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarything
This is a quite interesting novel very loosely based on the life of Charles Fisk, who worked on the design of the detonator for the atomic bomb in the 1940s. Im not usually fond of historical novels that include more fiction than fact but I did enjoy this one. Theres also the love story between Charles and Brenda, which I wasnt that fond of. What I found most fascinating about this book was when it focused on Charles dawning realization of just what he was working on and what implications it ...more
BooksnPugs
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a joy to read and at times also sad. The author did a wonderful job fictionalizing Charles Fishs work on the making of the atomic bomb. The importance and destruction of it which ultimately caused Charles to be guilt ridden and remorseful. With love and support from his wife, Brenda, he heads into academia and eventually Charles finds solace. Thank you to the Book Club Girl Early Read Program and Harper Collins Publisher for this beautiful ARC. This is my honest review. ...more
Sharma Brenneman
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Thank you to the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. I would call this an old fashion love story. I enjoyed how the characters evolved as individuals and as a couple with a backdrop of World War II and the atomic bomb. I highly recommend this book especially if you enjoy World War II history.
Dad
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this advanced reader's edition on Goodreads. It is a novel based on the life of Charles Fisk who was a mathematician who worked on designing and building the detonator for the atomic bomb.

As per the author's notes, there was much of this novel that was not fact. However it was still an interesting read.
Shari
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading Bakers Secret, by Stephen Kieran, I knew that his next novel set during World War II would be good, and Universe of Two did not disappoint me. It was impossible to put down. Its a love story, its about the Manhattan project, its about math and science, and its about our conscience and doing what is right or wrong. Pick this book up in May when it is released!! ...more
Teresa
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a story! I wasnt sure that I was going to like this book because Im not that fond of reading about what details went into the making of war. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a story of Charles Fish who worked on The Manhattan Project. His wife, Brenda was an organist and even that was made interesting! I recommend this book! ...more
Lisa Thompson
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveways
I had no interest in reading about the creation of the atomic bomb but for me, this book was a page-turner! The story is told by two characters with chapters alternating between them and at the end of each chapter I found that I HAD to know what happened next. History, science, a love story, and a tale about the human conscience all in one. What a great story!
Melanie
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
I loved this book. I inhaled this book. I read it in one day. Beautiful characters you could get behind and root for. Subject matter so interesting. Weaving organ music into The Manhattan Project so deftly was genius.
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Stephen P. Kiernan's new novel, UNIVERSE OF TWO, comes out May 5.

This novel is a love story set in 1944, amid the development of the atomic bomb. Charlie is a young math whiz drafted into the Manhattan Project, where his tasks require him to ignore his moral qualms. His sweetheart Brenda, prohibited for security reasons from knowing what he's doing, sees these ethical hesitations as weakness,
...more

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