The Wives of Los Alamos: A Novel by TaraShea Nesbit
Told in the first person plural, this work holds in tension the distancing that reflects a time in history that was simply put, awful. The story of place and persons beyond the unleashing of the atom bomb that must always to some degree be shrouded.
The story of the families and women at Los Alamos, is in many ways the story of their internment, shrouded in the unknowing. The women know nothing of what their husbands are doing, and the scientists know little about what they are unleashing. We now know the significance of the mention of red faces after tests, looking back as we are, after the fact.
The day to day struggles of making do in a government run place, neither feast nor fowl, not scientists and not army, again emphasizes the degrees of separation, the shroud of silence that surrounds this community. Even the gossip is told at a distance. And that is the curious thing, how the writing style emphasizes the distance of the community, away in the desert, cloaked in secrecy.
The things the women do know are the day to day struggles for food, housing, schooling, and being wives of the forties, wives during wartime struggling for normalcy,
'In the day we wore gingham, at night we wore our prewar silk stockings, our prewar silk dresses.'
These are wives separated from their communities trying to build a new one, trying to create lost support groups. The sense of community of women supporting women is strong.
The contrast between themselves and the women scientists is interesting. The women feel that they don't have the freedom of those female scientists. But then neither do they have the same pressure.
Perhaps the last chapter is the most telling and most terrible of all. The few lines about the Bikini Islands and it's people demonstrates uncaring government agencies at their worst.
A thought provoking treatise about a terrible moment in time, the ramifications of which, for the world at large have been uncountable, as a new age was ushered in.
A NetGalley ARC