Sunday, October 25, 2020

Review: Atomic Love by Jennie Fields

Title: Atomic Love

Author: Jennie Fields

Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult fiction (historical)
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (IL)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Chicago, 1950. Rosalind Porter has always defied expectations--in her work as a physicist on the Manhattan Project and in her passionate love affair with colleague Thomas Weaver. Five years after the end of both, her guilt over the bomb and her heartbreak over Weaver are intertwined. She desperately misses her work in the lab, yet has almost resigned herself to a more conventional life.

Then Weaver gets back in touch--and so does the FBI. Special Agent Charlie Szydlo wants Roz to spy on Weaver, whom the FBI suspects of passing nuclear secrets to Russia. Roz helped to develop these secrets and knows better than anyone the devastating power such knowledge holds. But can she spy on a man she still loves, despite her better instincts? At the same time, something about Charlie draws her in. He's a former prisoner of war haunted by his past, just as her past haunts her.

As Rosalind's feelings for each man deepen, so too does the danger she finds herself in. She will have to choose: the man who taught her how to love . . . or the man her love might save?
 
Review: I have had this book on my TBR shelf for a few months; I got it from Book of the Month but somehow kept not choosing to read it. I am glad I finally did as it read quickly and is set in an interesting time.

First, I must comment on the cover as I love noticing cover trends. It seems that all historical fiction now has a woman (or two) walking away from the reader in a misty landscape. 

1950s America was a time of turmoil for some. The war had ended, modernization was coming in (think electric houses!), women were kicked out of the workplace and trying to adjust to staying home, McCarthy was on the rampage looking for communists, and the Russians were building A- and H-bombs to rival those of the US. And there seems to have been quite a bit of liquor drinking.

This novel combines history, the space race, the Manhattan Project, a female scientist in a time of very few, love, the FBI, intrigue, murder, and more as it explores Rosalind's guilt over her role in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, her desire to be a scientist again, her fear of commitment, her desire to be loved, and to love. That's a lot, but it all fits together well in a story that reads quickly and easily.

The book could come off as a bit shallow because it covers a lot, but I enjoyed the read and the author's note at the back that explains the connection to the real lone woman on the Manhattan Project and her own mother, who was a scientist of this era.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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