Every character here -- even the relatively minor ones, even the relatives of minor ones -- is endowed by their creator with the fullest complements of flaws, tics, vices, strengths, virtues and moments of nobility. Just when we think we know her self-promoting, hard-charging oncologist Sandy Glass, just when we are smirking contemptuously at him, Goodman peels back another layer and invites us to peer harder. We find ourselves looking at a loyal chevalier whose capacity for devotion to a colleague wipes the smirk off our face. It works in reverse with another character, Jacob, husband to Glass's exacting scientific partner, Marion Mendelssohn. Jacob has put his own brilliance at the service of his wife's career and seems the model of modest self-sacrifice. Yet he's gradually revealed as a secret manipulator who, with a few careful words, will set in motion the events that threaten his wife's reputation and the existence of her research lab. But it is not a simple matter of "people are not what they seem." Goodman doesn't stop. Sandy Glass has many more layers, and so does Jacob Mendelssohn. So does everybody. To be honest, it's tiring. But it's also ultimately rewarding.
The Washington Post
Goodman has written an energetic indictment of high-stakes science, presenting it as a system that makes unreasonable demands on young researchers, promotes cupidity, doesn't tolerate dissent. In the end, though, this argument fails to move either Cliff or Robin, who come to realize that despite its failings they'd rather do "the slow exhausting work" of science than anything else. The reader, meanwhile, understands that despite being cast out of the Mendelssohn-Glass labone for being too exacting, the other for not being exacting enoughneither Cliff nor Robin will have a problem getting hired somewhere else. Cancer hasn't been cured, but there'll still be a pretty happy ending for each of them.
The New York Times
There are more rats than those in the cages of the Massachusetts research laboratory at the center of Goodman's novel. Postdoctoral researcher Cliff may have fudged his amazing tumor-reducing results while his bosses are all too eager to capitalize on any discovery. Jenna Stern delivers a lively depiction of the high-pressure world of cancer research. Her narrative commences on a fairly even note and increases in intensity as Nobel Prize fantasies are dashed by congressional hearings and political realities. Stern does a particularly deft job with the heated interchange between Sandy Glass, a lab director, and an irate congressional panel. Stern does less well with Cliff, Robin and the other postdoctoral students at the heart of the story. They all sound remarkably alike, and Stern's voice is too mature for the 20-somethings. The weighted, even intonation is not the way Generation Y speaks-even the highly educated Ivy Leaguers on whom this novel is based. The abridgment is smoothly orchestrated with no noticeable jumps or gaps. Despite these relatively minor flaws, Intuition is an enjoyable light listen about a timely issue. Simultaneous release with the Dial Press hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 5, 2005). (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Readers yearning for enjoyable novels of academic manners can add another to the especially fine crop published recently. While National Book Award finalist Goodman's latest doesn't quite match the dazzle of Zadie Smith's On Beauty or the zany, brainy satire of Alison Lurie's Truth and Consequences and Jennifer Vandever's The Bront Project, her book does stand out for its biting yet insightful portrayal of a high-stakes research institute. Like the religious camp that Goodman brought to life in Kaaterskill Falls, the prestigious Philpott Institute in Cambridge, MA, is a virtually closed community dominated by a charismatic leader, oncologist Sandy Glass. Dr. Glass's enthusiasm galvanizes his ambitious scientists to work round the clock when experimental results yield a possible cancer cure, until one young researcher publicizes her suspicions of fraud. As scandal descends, supple and subtle prose reveals each character's complexities without judgment. That same controlled language keeps the plot moving as ethics, politics, and emotions collide, eventually revealing how true integrity-and otherwise-is distributed within this microcosm of the human experience. Recommended for most fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/05.]-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A scandal rocks a cancer-research laboratory, unsettles relationships and stimulates an impassioned inquiry into the issue of scientific freedom in Goodman's rich, intricate third novel (Paradise Park, 2001, etc.). The year 1985 may be an annus mirabilis for the Harvard-affiliated Philpott Institute in Cambridge, Mass. Brilliant "postdoc[toral fellow]" Cliff Bannaker has developed a virus (R-7) that effectively destroys cancerous tumors in "nude" (i.e., hairless) mice. Despite caution preached by sternly rational lab director Marion Mendelssohn, Philpott's co-director Sandy Glass, a practicing oncologist and an ebullient pragmatist who thrives in the limelight, prevails, and Cliff's "breakthrough" is made public-perhaps prematurely. Cliff's former girlfriend (of sorts) and lab colleague Robin Decker finds increasing cause to suspect he has selectively suppressed data, and blows the whistle. Cliff becomes, first, an accused traitor to the scientific spirit, then a martyr; Robin a pariah, shunned by other colleagues (several of whom are quite incisively characterized); Marion and Sandy, eternal opposites, locked in a struggle neither can win, or wants. There's something of the breadth and generosity of a Victorian "three-decker" novel in the skill with which Goodman threads her ingenious plot through an ambitious mobilization of terse confrontations and detail-crammed scenes (climaxing with a dramatic Congressional investigation and the formal appeal determined to reverse its findings), and the remarkably varied gallery of supporting players. They include Marion's quietly supportive husband Jacob, a complex mixture of self-sacrifice and guile; Cliff's Chinese-born research partner XiangFeng, who may pay the highest price for Cliff's alleged duplicity; and Sandy's three accomplished daughters, notably, bookish, idealistic, hopelessly infatuated adolescent Kate. Yet these are only the crest of a wave of empathy (worthy of George Eliot) that finds not only the human weaknesses, but the goodness, and even nobility, in each of Goodman's struggling characters-most of all in Robin, who'll never know whether she has been inspired and ennobled, or betrayed, by her "intuition."Top-notch in every respect. A superlative novel.
"Goodman's characters and story are luxuriously imagined.... [She] meticulously charts the insidiousness of doubt, showing how it metastasizes." — Newsday
"Superb.... a delicate analysis of how an ethics scandal filters through the sensibility of brilliant and brilliantly realized characters. It's a tricky operation that Goodman performs with a precision of a scientist, and the flair of an artist at the top of her game. A." — Entertainment Weekly
"This is a story of love and science both gone wrong, and Goodman handles the narrative and its wide web of details with efficiency and grace, bringing a novelist's eye to bear on a realm too often ignored."— O Magazine
"Powerful.... [An] extremely engaging novel that reflects the stops and starts of the scientific process, as well as its dependence on the complicated individuals who do the work.... A truly humanist novel from the supposedly antiseptic halls of science."— Publishers Weekly
"This brilliant novel shows a world of labs and researchers which seems unfamiliar to some of us, yet it's a world intimately relevant to our existence—our fallibility and vulnerability. Page by page the story shimmers with insights into the subtlety and complexity of human psychology and relationships. Allegra Goodman writes like a master." —Ha-Jin, National Book Award winning author of WAITING and WAR TRASH
"What a feat, to pull off a large story of science and politics in the here and now, with beautifully drawn and compelling characters, with all the large and small details of their lives. What a gift not to pass judgement on any of them, to love each character equally and fairly. The ending is perfection." — Jane Hamilton, author of THE MAP OF THE WORLD and THE BOOK OF RUTH
“Goodman’s interests—if not always her sympathies—lie with her all-too-human albeit brilliant creations....her portrayals of these scientists, in and out of their lab coats, are of the richest texture. These characters are only as beset by vanity, selfishness, egotism as the rest of us. But in the fiercely competitive, high-stakes world of cancer research, it’s enough for careers–and lives–to be destroyed.” — Vogue
“The best major American novel of the year so far” — The New York Sun
“Winningly original...In smartly unfolding scenes of scientific intrigue, political maneuvering, romance, and complex alliances, these memorably drawn characters play out their personal and professional dreams and deceptions. Goodman transports us in a fugue state of first-class storytelling from the bare-bones basement of the Philpott to the gleaming halls of Congress and back, bring[ing] us that much closer to the heart of the matter: what it means to be–merely, magnificently–human.” — Elle
"Believe it or not, a thriller and a page-turner about scientific fraud. Brilliant." — The Guardian
“There’s something of the breadth and generosity of a Victorian “three-decker” novel in the skill with which Goodman threads her ingenious plot through an ambitious mobilization of terse confrontations and detail-crammed scenes...Top-notch in every respect. A superlative novel.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)