Graduating from Harvard at the height of World War II, brilliant mathematician Charlie Fish is assigned to the Manhattan Project. Working with some of the age’s greatest scientific minds, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard, Charlie is assigned the task of designing and building the detonator of the atomic bomb. As he performs that work Charlie suffers a crisis of conscience, which his wife, Brenda—unaware of the true nature of Charlie’s top-secret task—mistakes as self-doubt. She urges him to set aside his qualms and continue. Once the bombs strike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the feelings of culpability devastate him and Brenda. At the war’s end, Charlie receives a scholarship to pursue a PhD in physics at Stanford—an opportunity he and Brenda hope will allow them a fresh start. But the past proves inescapable. All any of his new colleagues can talk about is the bomb, and what greater atomic weapons might be on the horizon. Haunted by guilt, Charlie and Brenda leave Stanford and decide to dedicate the rest of their lives to making amends for the evil he helped to birth into the world. (From Goodreads)
I enjoyed the love story of Charlie and Brenda throughout the novel. They each have their own point of view but when they’re together you can feel their love and chemistry even though at first, they both didn’t seem to quite mesh well. But yet it’s realistic in a sense on how a couple first meet. We test each other first and get a feel for things before we really start to reveal who we truly are. This is what you see between Charlie and Brenda and them evolving together is delightful to read.
Brenda as a character is brash and hard to like. She acts spoiled and entitled but it’s her strong character that helps Charlie in the long run and exactly what he needs as he progresses through his career. Charlie on the other hand is her opposite; reserved but thoughtful and radiates a quiet intelligence. but it’s nice to see how these two compliment each other and find what they’re missing in their lives. It inexplicably feels right when both of them are together.
The plot is told in each of their views with the creation of the atom bombs in the forefront of Charlie’s life. I was concerned at first because I was anticipating a lot of terminology I would not be familiar with. Luckily this doesn’t get complicated and is a simplified version of the creation of these bombs without the lingo. It’s a very interesting plot and unsettling at the same time as we all know the outcome of these bombs. Yet on the other hand it was also interesting to see what happened after the bombs were dropped. The guilt some characters faced, but also those that would capitalize on it to expand the armaments industry.
It’s a beautiful love story and a good read. I’m glad I got picked to read this to review! I do recommend this one. It’s beautifully written.
I give it an 8 out of 10.
Thank you Library Thing and St Martin’s Press for the review copy!