As only author Marie Benedict can do so well, she combines history with fiction to tell tales of strong women throughout the years. Those who have endured and conquered over those who refused to see their intellect or tried to take from them their ideas all because they are women. Her Hidden Genius is clearly her best to date. It espouses the life of a woman with superior intelligence who was forced to overcome many hurtles, but courageously stood her ground to maintain her love of science, intellect and discoveries.
Rosalind Franklin was born in England into a large, wealthy family. But all her life she chose to work hard. Her genius was seen at a young age and she chose science, a profession she was passionate about as her career. In the late 1940’s and 1950’s as a scientist in physics, she worked tirelessly to understand X-rays. Over the years her specialty and obsession became DNA and its pattern.
She first worked in a laboratory in Paris, a city which she loved, with a group of scientists, both male and female who respected each other and each other’s work. They encouraged each other and each other’s research. She also fell in love for the first time, something she never thought she would be able to do. As a woman, Rosalind always felt she would have to pick, a husband or her career. Her life always consisted of her work, her laboratory and her family back in England.
After a few years in Paris, and with her parents and family pressuring her to move back to England, she agreed. She took with her the work she had been doing on unlocking the secrets of DNA. But she would find her new workplace was nothing like the one she came from. She was looked down upon by the male scientists, never called doctor by them, called by her first name, and even a nickname they gave her. She received no respect at all. But she put her head down and with her assistant continued to work on breaking the DNA code.
Then she and her assistant made an incredible breakthrough. Suddenly she finds some of the male scientists asking too many questions. She discovers one actually breaking into her laboratory. The Director of the laboratory seems to not want to deal with her problems, basically wishing her away. She decides to take another job, but before she is able to leave, it seems her discoveries are written about by some of the male scientists at the laboratory.
Beaten down, Rosalind accepts her fate. She knows what she had done and that’s all that matters. It is only later that these scientists will be challenged, and the challenger will be another woman, a good friend of Rosalind’s.
Rosalind literally devoted her whole life to the study of science and her genius was truly hidden by the men who surrounded her and by the way women were perceived at the time. But through historical writers such as Benedict, they are now being given the accolades they have always truly deserved.
Thank you #NetGalley #SourcebooksLandmark #MarieBenedict #HerHiddenGenius for the advanced copy.