A Fierce Radiance

By Lauren Belfer
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061252518, 544pp.)

Publication Date: June 2010

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the July 2010 Indie Next List
“The reader will quickly be immersed in this novel built around the development of penicillin during World War II. Lauren Belfer not only creates great plot and characters but has the skill to inform in the best tradition of historical fiction. Her ability to replicate the anxiety and tension of the home front resonates, as does her portrayal of a world where disease and death were far more capricious than today.”
-- Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI


Description

From the New York Times bestselling author of City of Light comes a compelling, richly detailed tale of passion and intrigue set in New York City during the tumultuous early days of World War II.

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.




About the Author

Lauren Belfer is the author of the New York Times bestseller City of Light. She lives in New York City.




NPR
Sunday, Jul 11, 2010

It's hard to imagine that people used to die from things as small as a scratch on the knee -- but that's what life was like before penicillin. Author Lauren Belfer's new novel, A Fierce Radiance, follows the intrigue as pharmaceutical companies race to mass-produce lifesaving drugs during World War II. More at NPR.org

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Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. A Fierce Radiance is set in New York, at the onset of World War II. Talk about America during wartime. How was the war a part of the lives of Claire and Charlie Shipley, Jamie Stanton, Edward Rutherford, Bill Shipley, and other Americans? Did any of your relatives serve in the war? What about on the home front—do you know how your relatives' lives were affected during that time?




Praise For A Fierce Radiance

“Enthralling. A FIERCE RADIANCE shines with fascinating detail about a moment in American history we have mostly forgotten, when penicillin was new, miraculous, and in short supply. 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

“Belfer combines life-and-death scenarios, romance, murder, and wartime reality at home and abroad, while taking a stab at industrialists who profit by dubious means and salve their consciences through philanthropy. . . . An engrossing and ambitious novel that vividly portrays a critical time in American history.”
-Booklist (starred review)

“A FIERCE RADIANCE shines with fascinating detail about a moment in American history we have mostly forgotten, when penicillin was new, miraculous, and in short supply. 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

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