A Fierce Radiance: A Novel

A Fierce Radiance: A Novel

3.7 55
by Lauren Belfer
     
 

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“An engrossing and ambitious novel that vividly portrays a critical time in American history.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Enthralling. A Fierce Radiance shines with fascinating detail.... Belfer’s powerful portrayal of how people are changed in pursuit of a miracle makes this book an especially compelling

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Overview

“An engrossing and ambitious novel that vividly portrays a critical time in American history.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Enthralling. A Fierce Radiance shines with fascinating detail.... Belfer’s powerful portrayal of how people are changed in pursuit of a miracle makes this book an especially compelling read.” — Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank

Set during the uncertain early days of World War II, this suspenseful story from the New York Times bestselling author of City of Light follows the work of photojournalist Claire Shipley as she captures America’s race to develop life-saving antibiotics—an assignment that will involve blackmail, espionage, and murder.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Penicillin operates as the source of romance, murder, and melodrama in Belfer's (City of Light) evocative WWII–era novel. When Life magazine sends strikingly beautiful photographer Claire Shipley to report on a promising new medication made from green mold, Claire, 36, the single mother of a young son, who lost her daughter to blood poisoning eight years before, is moved by the drug's potential to save lives. She also becomes smitten with resident doctor James Stanton, a man with two interests: penicillin and bedding Claire. But as the war casualties pile up, penicillin becomes an issue of national security and the politics of the drug's production threaten to disrupt the pair's lust-fueled romance, especially when James is sent abroad to oversee human trials of the drug. The pharmaceutical companies—including one owned by Claire's father—realize the financial potential in penicillin, which leads to a hodgepodge of soapy plot twists: suspicious deaths, amnesia, illness, exploitation, and espionage. Belfer handily exploits Claire's photo shoots to add historical texture to the book, and the well-researched scenes bring war-time New York City to life, capturing the anxiety-ridden period. (June)
Library Journal
Thirty-six-year-old Claire Shipley is a most modern woman in 1941. A gifted, focused photographer for LIFEmagazine, a divorced single mother, and fearless in the pursuit of her career, she stumbles upon an enormous story when she is sent to cover the use of an experimental, hard-to-produce drug, penicillin, on infections. Having lost one child to septicemia, she is fiercely protective of her son. When her original story is killed, she is asked by the U.S. government to pursue it as a patriot, keeping an eye on the big pharmaceutical companies who are supposed to be mass-producing patent-free penicillin for use on the battlefield but are really working on the much more profitable cousin drugs. VERDICT With an exquisite artist's eye for detail that puts readers right in the middle of New York City and the World War II fronts and incorporating all the elements of a hot, sprawling, page-turning romance—not to mention espionage, murder, crime-scene deceptions, big business intrigue, and family estrangements—Belfer (City of Light) once again blends fiction and facts with riveting results.—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Kirkus Reviews
A novel from Belfer (City of Lights, 1999) about the race to develop penicillin and other antibiotics during World War II. Claire, a photographer with Life magazine, is sent to cover a groundbreaking discovery by scientists at Manhattan's Rockefeller Institute. A mold seems to have generated a lifesaving drug, and doctors at the Institute are testing it on patients suffering from infections. Claire is deeply invested in her assignment-long ago, she lost a daughter to blood poisoning. She's drawn to Jamie, the handsome doctor administering the trials. Now divorced, single-handedly raising son Charlie and tentatively healing her long estrangement from her Wall Street kingpin father, Rutherford, Claire is shocked when patients on the verge of recovery die-supplies of penicillin, grown haphazardly in bottles and bedpans, are too sparse for a complete course of treatment. When the United States enters the war after Pearl Harbor, pharmaceutical companies, including some still-familiar players like Merck and Pfizer, compete to be the first to mass-produce penicillin. The success of the war effort and, of course, scads of money are at stake. Jamie's sister Tia, a Rockefeller mycologist, is investigating other antimicrobial agents found in soil, known as penicillin's "cousins." Tia has just isolated a particularly promising specimen when she falls from a cliff near the Institute-or was she pushed? The sample she was cataloguing, notable for its startling blue color, disappears. The government, with the cooperation of Life publisher Henry Luce, enlists Claire to document the progress Pharma is making on the penicillin front. Rutherford has an entrepreneurial interest in patentable antibiotics. When Nick, a doctor from an impoverished immigrant background, who had flirted with Tia, offers to sell Rutherford a strikingly cerulean "cousin," Rutherford bites, but now he's keeping secrets from Claire. Jamie, who's engaged to Claire, returns from service in North Africa to find his romance disrupted by the fact that his prospective father-in-law might have ordered his sister's murder. A ponderously paced historical thriller.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061999505
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/15/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
112,129
File size:
1 MB

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