Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Review: A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
Pages: 532 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/World War II
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound
Summary from publisher:
Claire Shipley is a single mother haunted by the death of her young daughter and by her divorce years ago. She is also an ambitious photojournalist, and in the anxious days after Pearl Harbor, the talented Life magazine reporter finds herself on top of one of the nation's most important stories. In the bustling labs of New York City's renowned Rockefeller Institute, some of the country's brightest doctors and researchers are racing to find a cure that will save the lives of thousands of wounded American soldiers and countless others—a miraculous new drug they call penicillin. Little does Claire suspect how much the story will change her own life when the work leads to an intriguing romance.
Though Claire has always managed to keep herself separate from the subjects she covers, this story touches her deeply, stirring memories of her daughter's sudden illness and death—a loss that might have been prevented by this new "miracle drug." And there is James Stanton, the shy and brilliant physician who coordinates the institute's top secret research for the military. Drawn to this dedicated, attractive man and his work, Claire unexpectedly finds herself falling in love. But Claire isn't the only one interested in the secret development of this medicine. Her long-estranged father, Edward Rutherford, a self-made millionaire, understands just how profitable a new drug like penicillin could be. When a researcher at the institute dies under suspicious circumstances, the stakes become starkly clear: a murder has been committed to obtain these lucrative new drugs. With lives and a new love hanging in the balance, Claire will put herself at the center of danger to find a killer—no matter what price she may have to pay.
Lauren Belfer dazzled readers with her debut novel, City of Light, a New York Times notable book of the year. In this highly anticipated follow-up, she deftly captures the uncertainty and spirit, the dreams and hopes, of a nation at war. A sweeping tale of love and betrayal, intrigue and idealism, A Fierce Radiance is an ambitious and deeply engaging novel from an author of immense talent.
My weekend has been full of romance and YA and, though I love both of those genres, it’s nice to read something different once in a while. I figure that a historical fiction/thriller/romance should make my quota for different for this month.
I loved Claire and her job as a Life photojournalist really made her an interesting character and protagonist. I , of course, love the romance element as I always do. I liked the pairing of Claire and James. They had great chemistry and I thought their storyline was interesting. But what I loved most about these two characters is that they both played a huge role in the development of the storyline through their respective careers. They were directly involved and not passersby.
I love the mixture of genres. The romance, thriller and historical fiction elements worked well together and complemented each other. I normally avoid thrillers like the plague but this was delightfully downplayed and not Da Vinci Code-like over the top. The historical fiction aspect was the strongest plotline and the biggest drawing point of this book. I love the way New York history, the discovery of penicillin, and WWII are woven into the plot. I did sometimes find that Belfer tried to juggle too many storylines at once and the plot got a bit jumbled at some points but not often. The weak points ended quickly and I was almost immediately sucked back into the story.
This is one of the first historical fiction/ thrillers to hold my attention with strong characters, strong plot and detailed research.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.