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Elizabeth Church biography

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Elizabeth Church
Photo: Alan A. Church

Elizabeth Church

Elizabeth Church Biography

Elizabeth J. Church was born in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Her father, a research chemist, was drafted out of Carnegie Mellon University where he was pursuing his graduate studies and was sent to join other scientists working in secret on the Manhattan Project. Elizabeth's mother, a biologist, eventually joined her husband in Los Alamos. While The Atomic Weight of Love is not their story, it is the story of many of the women who sacrificed their careers so that their husbands could pursue unique opportunities in scientific research. Along with other Los Alamos children, Elizabeth grew up in an environment that gave her ready access both to nature and to extraordinary female teachers who had advanced degrees in mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, literature, and other disciplines.

Elizabeth practiced law for over thirty years, focusing on mental health and constitutional law issues. When her husband's premature death from cancer taught her the unmitigated brevity of life, she first paid off his medical bills and then walked away from the law to pursue her original dream of writing. This book is the result of her efforts – a dream come true at the age of 60 (proof that it is never too late to pursue one's dreams). She has written extensively for legal publications and scientific journals. Her short story Skin Deep won first prize in Literal Latté's 2001 fiction contest, and Lying with Dogs was published in Natural Bridge in 2002. The Atomic Weight of Love is her first novel.



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Interview

Elizabeth Church discusses how her family experience led her to write her debut novel, The Atomic Weight of Love.

Exquisite Adaptations
—an essay by—
elizabeth j. church

I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, the birthplace of the atomic bomb. My father was one of the scientists who created the bomb; my mother, a biologist, was one of the well-educated, intellectually curious women whom bomb scientists tended to marry. At the conclusion of the war, my father, a research chemist, chose to stay in Los Alamos, and my mother joined him. I was brought up in a unique community, where physicists successfully challenged the accuracy of police radar guns and parents carefully designed neighborhoods so that their children could walk to school without once having to cross a street.

Many of the women I knew while growing up were unable to pursue their own careers. It was the 1950s, and for the most part a woman was expected to acquiesce to her husband's wishes and invest her talents in her children. I benefited from this dynamic; I owe the generous women of my childhood an enormous debt. But as I matured, and especially after I left Los Alamos for college, I wondered: What could these women have done and been? What more could my mother have accomplished, had she been given the opportunities I was finding as a result of the women's...

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Books by this Author

Books by Elizabeth Church at BookBrowse
The Atomic Weight of Love jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Elizabeth Church but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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    Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life - as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library - she still firmly believes ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Atomic Weight of Love

    Try:
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  • Andrew D. Blechman

    Andrew D. Blechman

    Andrew D. Blechman has been a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the Des Moines Register. His work has also appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and The International Herald Tribune, among others. His ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Atomic Weight of Love

    Try:
    Pigeons
    by Andrew D. Blechman

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