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Publisher's Summary

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife and Loving Frank, this resonant debut spans the years from World War II through the Vietnam War to tell the story of a woman whose scientific ambition is caught up in her relationships with two very different men.

For Meridian Wallace - and many other smart, driven women of the 1940s - being ambitious meant being an outlier. Ever since she was a young girl, Meridian had been obsessed with birds, and she was determined to get her PhD, become an ornithologist, and make her mother's sacrifices to send her to college pay off. But she didn't expect to fall in love with her brilliant physics professor, Alden Whetstone. When he's recruited to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to take part in a mysterious wartime project, she reluctantly defers her own plans and joins him.

What began as an exciting intellectual partnership devolves into a "traditional" marriage. And while the life of a housewife quickly proves stifling, it's not until years later, when Meridian meets a Vietnam veteran who opens her eyes to how the world is changing, that she realizes just how much she has given up. The repercussions of choosing a different path, though, may be too heavy a burden to bear.

Elizabeth Church's stirring debut novel about ambition, identity, and sacrifice will ring true to every woman who has had to make the impossible choice between who she is and who circumstances demand her to be.

©2016 Elizabeth J. Church (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Oh, what an incandescent debut.... Church follows one extraordinary woman who is brave enough to challenge the times, take defiant wing, and chart her own extraordinary flight path.... I never wanted the story to end." (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times best-selling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You)
"[Narrator Jennifer] Van Dyck voices Meridian with depth, articulating her dazzling intelligence and delicately revealing her growing identity as she finally pursues her own passions. Van Dyck also has the knack for convincingly distinguishing each character." (AudioFile magazine)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

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Disappointing

Had so much potential for a unique interesting story - the first half was exactly that, with excellent narration . Then it took a wrong turn and became a long winded predictable, frustrating piece of "chick lit"- with another author that just had to add a bit of animal cruelty such as a bird being shot with a bee-bee gun even though it added nothing to the story. Turned out to be a waste of many hours.

41 of 46 people found this review helpful

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The power of observation

Out of decades of observing crows, a highly intelligent woman comes to understand love both within and beyond marriage. Importantly, she evolves to see her abilities quite beyond her first five decades, becoming mentor, feminist and writer. One of the best listens of the year.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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This writer has been there

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is the best novel I've read in a very long time. The author aptly describes the situation intelligent, educated women who married found themselves in not so long ago: stifled, patronized, lonely and angry. This story could have been mine. How this bright woman fought her way out of subjugation to a brilliant, but flawed, man and a society that believed women were nothing but home makers, is a great story. The book is intelligent, literary, and accessible.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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I ached

The narration was superb, but I found the main character's story painfully depressing, through and through.

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

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Overcoming a lonely life.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Good coverage of an historical period. And useful insights into the challenges of marriage (and relationship) throughout time. Afterall, it was not only in the 1950s that individuals found themselves very lonely despite the fact that they were married.

How could the performance have been better?

I did not enjoy the narration. I suppose the "old lady" voice is a legitimate conceit but I found it wearying and joyless.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Mispronunciation of New Mexico places

I liked the book, but you should have spoken to someone who LIVES in NM before you performed it. Jemez is " hey mez" not "ya mez"
Chamisa is cha need ah. Pecos is Pay kohs etc. other pronunciations are pretty good.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Unbearable weight of self-pity

This started out fairly strong, but quickly devolved into just another whiny female character wondering why she's so picked on when she keeps allowing it all to happen. The book description says she was "entranced and in love" with her physics professor, but the book never really shows that. In fact, it shows how she never understood him or even liked him that much, but just went with him because he told her she had to. Even when she has a strong female friend, she just lets her boss her around and determine how she lives her life and spends her time. Then when she meets Clay, before he even gives any indication that he's interested, she starts whining about how she's married and later how she has a bad body. One time, she got a minor cut and goes into such dramatics over it, calling Clay to come and save her, that it made me lose all respect and eventually to stop listening when I only had 2 more hours to go. There is nothing in this book that makes this woman interesting. The dialogue is unbearable in places, especially when she is arguing with her husband! As if we need to hear those tired conversations! If I could return this one, I would.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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meh!

boring, kept waiting for something to happen besides the usual ... woman reflecting on the changes in women's lives.... narrator voice somehow not appropriate...

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • Milwaukee, WI, United States
  • 05-28-16

Cliched and Trite

I really wanted to like this book. I wanted to like the main character and appreciate her story. But there was nothing new or different or unique to justify the effort required to get to the end.

After finally finishing, my overall impression was, "OK but so what?"

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Women's Lib Comes to the New Mexico Desert

A cross section of seven decades as experienced by a woman living at Los Alamos. The description of the desert, the geology, the Indian history, and the crows that Meridian is studying is poetic. This is set against the harshness of the creation of the atomic bomb and the results in regard to WWII and ensuing wars. Meridian is a strong intelligent woman with a wry sense of humor throughout but she really finds her identity as the 1970's and Women's Liberation enter her world. I wish I could write as well as Elizabeth Church since this review really does not do the book justice but this novel deserves more than five stars.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful