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Editor reviews

Editors Select, February 2014 - There’s no doubt about it, TaraShea Nesbit’s debut is a strange one. But it’s also lyrical and lovely and appeals to my inner English major who gets giddy when a novel’s form matches its meaning so perfectly. Being so acclimated to books that delve into the minutiae of individual experience, the use of the first person plural narrative voice was a shock to my ear, though it wasn’t long before I realized what Nesbit was getting at here. Historical women make great fictional fodder (think The Paris Wife, The Women, The Chaperone, just to name a few) because often so little is known about them. But Nesbit take a different tactic. Instead of fleshing out one person from the mass of history she makes this about the common experience of the families who were present during the development of the atom bomb. Her approach allows for a series of vignettes that together encompass a sweeping sense of time and place, and sheds new light on one of the most defining collective experiences in human history. —Emily, Audible Editor

Summary

Their average age was 25. 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.

©2014 TaraShea Nesbit (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • ABP
  • 14-07-15

Fascinating.

At first the plural voice "We" seemed odd, but as I listened it became more like the voice of a greek chorus. Imagining these women brought along, having to move blindly without knowing the details or where they were going, and the lives they lived while their husbands built something that still threatens life on this planet to this day, is amazing because it sounds so normal, the wives created a community, while their husbands worked on something which had the power to end a war and the world.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Vince
  • 29-05-15

Unique POV Perfect For Telling This Story!

Where does The Wives of Los Alamos rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I've listened to over 1,500 audio books and this is one of the best books that I've heard that were written to be ideally presented as audio books. The unique format is perfect for the way this story is told.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The wives of the men creating the atom bomb. They each are part of the group-POV. With this story you get to feel what it was like to be a wife in that place in that time. You get to experience what it was like thru the eyes and ears of all the first wives who first came. This story has the best use of a Group-POV that I've ever experienced. I loved it.

Which scene was your favorite?

The best scene is when the wives first find out what their husbands were doing all those years and how they were always trying to find out what was going on. These wives were truly an important part of the Greatest Generation.

Who was the most memorable character of The Wives of Los Alamos and why?

There was no one character. There were the first group of wives taken as a whole. It is an amazing book to listen to. I think it will always be the most memorable audio book I'll ever hear.

Any additional comments?

Yes, by all means, listen to this book. I've read reviews of the written book where some readers found it hard to figure out the Group POV format. I can tell you with the great reader used to present this book, I knew for the first words what was going on with the Group POV and I was delighted. The author made this POV work and work as well as I think it can be done. This is a book best heard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ebeth
  • 24-05-15

An End and A Beginning

Except for accounts of slavery or the holocaust, the majority of historical recounts of world events come from the male viewpoint. What I liked about this revelation of events was the absence of that voice. I appreciated that everything I already knew historically was somewhere in the background paint while this extraordinary Author told the realistic first-person, daily life story of so many women and their families regarding pivotal times in our nation.

In found so, the author captured snapshots of a nation that are highly relevant, at least to me, today. America is her own entity and in that her Government calculates losses necessary to protect her great and terrible Queendom. No citizen lives within her borders without a cost.

This book is incredible. It should find a place in classroom curriculum across American high schools immediately.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Buffalogal
  • 05-05-15

Intriguing

The style was not what I expected; it was much more poetic. Ultimately, a look into a unique life experience from the women who lived it, but who's perspective was left out of the history books. Lyrical.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ash kasper
  • 22-03-15

So close but so far

This was a very hard book to listen to. It's a shame because it had an interesting basis, and had the potential to be very informative, but narrating from a communal perspective left the reader with no connection to the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sara
  • 01-04-18

Developing the Bomb And the Atomic Age

I am surprised by how effective and by how much I enjoyed the plural point of view used in the writing. Nesbit told the story from the group perspective rather than being centered on or limited to several individual characters. Instead of distancing the reader from the characters I thought it accentuated how Los Alamos and the nuclear program were a group effort involving scientists and their families from around the country and around the world.

The story highlighted a fascinating time in history and effectively put a personal and human face on the project, its dangers and outcomes. I enjoyed hearing about the wild nature and native culture of New Mexico and life in the isolated military compound of Los Alamos.

I thought Gilbert did a good job with the narration. Do be aware that this book offers the day in and day out human experience of this time in the format of a novel. If you are interested in a comprehensive history of the atomic bomb it is best to look to a different book. That said, I enjoyed the textural feeling offered by this work of historic fiction.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Justinmud
  • 06-08-18

Great book!

I have never read a historical book that contained so much information and broad information about a whole group of people while being written almost like a historical novel!
Well read on Audible too! Which is a huge plus!

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  • Mr. Bemus
  • 04-08-18

Plural First Person

This entire novel is written in the plural first person. Characters are unclear and melded together. While there are historical facts blended within the story, there are so many opinions on every side that it is hard for the listener to identify with any portion of the book.

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  • Sharilyn
  • 27-07-17

I expected more

The reader had a monotone/droll voice. Throughout the entire book there were many many many sentences that read like this: we were from Virginia or we were from Atlanta or we were from...
Rather than say some of us were from...
The sentences were all composed as though "they" were of A sci-fi collective consciousness. It was really hard to listen to. Could've been an excellent book/story but it just didn't cut it.

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  • Luther A. Young
  • 20-04-17

Fantastic !!

Fantastic book very well written and very riveting !! The book flows very well and keeps you excited. Knowledge of us Atomic Bob Facility is Great . Highly recommend !!!