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A Fierce Radiance: A Novel Audiobook, by Lauren Belfer Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Lauren Belfer Narrator: Paula Christensen Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2010 ISBN: 9780062040343
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,170 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Lauren Belfer’s story of love in the time of penicillin is 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, New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank

  • “Ambitious, combining medical and military history with commercial rivalry, espionage, and thwarted love. Belfer clearly knows her scientific material. She also knows how to turn esoteric information into an adventure story, and how to tell that story well.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Belfer’s panoramic new novel is a love story wrapped around a spy story with a pivotal medical breakthrough at its center.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Belfer is adept at writing historical fiction that sizzles. Sex, spies, murder, big money, family betrayals, doomed romance, and exotic travel are smoothly braided into her main narrative about the wartime race to make large quantities of penicillin…A Fierce Radiance vividly brings back that time of both terror and eventual triumph.”

    Washington Post

  • “Penicillin operates as the source of romance, murder, and melodrama in Belfer’s evocative WWII-era novel…Belfer handily exploits Claire’s photo shoots to add historical texture to the book, and the well-researched scenes bring war-time New York City to life, capturing the anxiety-ridden period.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Belfer combines life-and-death scenarios, romance, murder, and wartime reality at home and abroad, while satirizing 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)

  • “[An] artful composition…captures the fragility and anxiety of life in wartime New York in crisply developed shades of black, white, and gray.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • Selected for the July 2010 Indie Next List
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2010 NPR Best Book: Mystery

Listener Reviews

Write a Review
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 2/13/2014

    " Great book, awesome look into the development of a drug that is so commonplace now. I love the development of sympathetic characters in a real time. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Megwil | 1/27/2014

    " I wanted to like this but the style is too much like what I imagine a romance novel to be like. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristen | 1/26/2014

    " Meh. Read it out of allegiance to "City of Light," which, in my memory from 10+ years ago, is still wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheila | 1/20/2014

    " Loved this rich and complicated story of the government's Manhattan Project-like effort to perfect and mass-produce penicillin during WWII. It is written by the same author who wrote "City of Light" about the electrification of the city of Buffalo, one of my all-time favorites. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 1/16/2014

    " I'd give this book an A for concept, a B- for plot, and C+ for editing. The book never pulled me in enough to make me anxious to get back to it. The various plot line seemed to interfere with each other rather than weave together. However, I would recommend it and it would make an very good choice for a book group. As a matter of fact I read this because I a member of the Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandra | 1/9/2014

    " It was a decent read. Not the most exciting but the writing flowed well. I probably enjoyed it more for the medical aspect and the relationship between the main character and her father. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 12/20/2013

    " Gripping! A "How far would you go to make your dreams come true, for love, and to protect those that you love" sort of novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jana | 11/9/2013

    " This was a really long and overdramatic story which couldn't decide if it was a romance or a mystery. However, the history in here about the development of penicillin (and the way people dropped off like flies before it) was fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 9/3/2013

    " I really liked the information about penacillen and the setting of ww2 new york. the love story/writing was tedious in places. But, I didn't put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diana | 7/1/2013

    " It was an interesting topic, but it dragged a little. Liked it, but didn't love it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cverboon | 10/21/2012

    " I have no idea how historically accurate this book is, but it was engrossing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Megan | 10/12/2012

    " Such a great book! It had drama, romance, historical elements, and mystery! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 7/27/2012

    " Belfer has again crafted a believable historical novel, mixing romance and mystery into her characters lives. Impressive. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 2/20/2012

    " Learned a lot about drug research "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kkop12 | 1/17/2012

    " I REALLY liked this book. Not one I'd probably read again, but I loved the story, as well as the historical information about the birth of penicillin. I not one to read 'thriller's, but the author kept me captivated right up until the last sentence. Great characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynda | 6/19/2011

    " Interesting story about the development of penicillin and its cousins. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tiffany | 5/22/2011

    " A good not-too-absorbing read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Toni | 5/9/2011

    " An over-long disappointing read. It does have some interesting historical facts concerning the development of penicillin during World War II. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 5/3/2011

    " Another WWII story, this is the tale of a photojournalist for "Life" magazine, who stumbles into the turmoil around the discovery of pincillin & its uses for wounded troops ahead of ordinary citizens. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leah | 4/26/2011

    " Just an awesome story!!! Great mix of history and fiction. Great characters and the perfect amount of human drama. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 4/3/2011

    " Historical novel involving the development of penicillin and WWII. So far, fascinating. "

About the Author

Lauren Belfer was born in Rochester, New York, and attended Swarthmore College, where she majored in medieval studies. She also has an MFA from Columbia University. Lauren Belfer’s most recent novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel and an NPR Best Mystery. Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. She lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

Paula Christensen was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in the suburbs of New York City. She studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Michael Howard Studios in New York City, and the Antaeus Company. Christensen is a graduate of Amherst College, where she received her BA with honors in theater, dance, and anthropology. She currently resides in Los Angeles, where she teaches dance and continues to work on both stage and screen.