Her Hidden Genius

Sourcebooks Landmark. Jan. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781728229393. $26.99. F
In early 1947, Dr. Rosalind Franklin leaves London for a job as a researcher in Paris, where she’ll be using X-ray crystallography to study carbons. Having regularly endured sexism in England, Rosalind is delighted to find her French colleagues welcoming and appreciative of her intelligence. After she develops feelings for the head of the lab, though, and then learns that he has a wife and is also dating another researcher at the lab, Rosalind feels it’s time to leave. She returns to England, where she studies DNA at King’s College. This is groundbreaking work, and they are in a race to be the first to determine the structure of DNA. However, Rosalind again encounters prejudice and also disregard for her rigorous methods. When her work is stolen by rivals, she looks for another job. Moving to Birkbeck and shifting her focus to RNA in viruses, Rosalind builds a new, supportive team that makes great progress, but her work is cut tragically short when she dies of cancer.
VERDICT As she does so well, Benedict (The Mystery of Mrs. Christie; with Victoria Christopher Murray, The Personal Librarian) again illuminates an overlooked female historical figure, accessibly highlighting Franklin’s scientific achievements and also depicting some of her personal life.
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