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.
©2016 Elizabeth J. Church (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
"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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"Overcoming a lonely life."
Yes. Good coverage of an historical period. And useful insights into the challenges of marriage (and relationship) throughout time. Afterall, it was not only in the 1950s that individuals found themselves very lonely despite the fact that they were married.
I did not enjoy the narration. I suppose the "old lady" voice is a legitimate conceit but I found it wearying and joyless.
Had so much potential for a unique interesting story - the first half was exactly that, with excellent narration . Then it took a wrong turn and became a long winded predictable, frustrating piece of "chick lit"- with another author that just had to add a bit of animal cruelty such as a bird being shot with a bee-bee gun even though it added nothing to the story. Turned out to be a waste of many hours.
"The power of observation"
Out of decades of observing crows, a highly intelligent woman comes to understand love both within and beyond marriage. Importantly, she evolves to see her abilities quite beyond her first five decades, becoming mentor, feminist and writer. One of the best listens of the year.
"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.
The narration was superb, but I found the main character's story painfully depressing, through and through.
"Mid 20th century women and sacrifice"
The best book on women, freedom, commitment...and the changes life puts us all through. Told by a woman who could be one of our aunts, teachers, or friends. An eye into the atomic bomb for those who think it all evil, and the Vietnam war from youthful perspective. Your heart will fall in love with Meridian!
"Fantastic, smart, touching, and thoughtful."
The relationships and their progression throughout the story are the highlight of this story, for me. There is a beautiful balance between science and soul.
"Women's Lib Comes to the New Mexico Desert"
A cross section of seven decades as experienced by a woman living at Los Alamos. The description of the desert, the geology, the Indian history, and the crows that Meridian is studying is poetic. This is set against the harshness of the creation of the atomic bomb and the results in regard to WWII and ensuing wars. Meridian is a strong intelligent woman with a wry sense of humor throughout but she really finds her identity as the 1970's and Women's Liberation enter her world. I wish I could write as well as Elizabeth Church since this review really does not do the book justice but this novel deserves more than five stars.
"Mispronunciation of New Mexico places"
I liked the book, but you should have spoken to someone who LIVES in NM before you performed it. Jemez is " hey mez" not "ya mez"
Chamisa is cha need ah. Pecos is Pay kohs etc. other pronunciations are pretty good.
"Cliched and Trite"
I really wanted to like this book. I wanted to like the main character and appreciate her story. But there was nothing new or different or unique to justify the effort required to get to the end.
After finally finishing, my overall impression was, "OK but so what?"
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