Summary and book reviews of Trinity by Louisa Hall

Trinity

by Louisa Hall

Trinity by Louisa Hall X
Trinity by Louisa Hall
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  • Published:
    Oct 2018, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Natalie Vaynberg

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About this Book

Book Summary

From the acclaimed author of Speak comes a kaleidoscopic novel about Robert Oppenheimer - father of the atomic bomb - as told by seven fictional characters.

J. Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant scientist, a champion of liberal causes, and a complex and often contradictory character. He loyally protected his Communist friends, only to later betray them under questioning. He repeatedly lied about love affairs. And he defended the use of the atomic bomb he helped create, before ultimately lobbying against nuclear proliferation.

Through narratives that cross time and space, a set of characters bears witness to the life of Oppenheimer, from a secret service agent who tailed him in San Francisco, to the young lover of a colleague in Los Alamos, to a woman fleeing McCarthyism who knew him on St. John. As these men and women fall into the orbit of a brilliant but mercurial mind at work, all consider his complicated legacy while also uncovering deep and often unsettling truths about their own lives.

In this stunning, elliptical novel, Louisa Hall has crafted a breathtaking and explosive story about the ability of the human mind to believe what it wants, about public and private tragedy, and about power and guilt. Blending science with literature and fiction with biography, Trinity asks searing questions about what it means to truly know someone, and about the secrets we keep from the world and from ourselves.

Testimonial 1
Sam Casal
San Francisco, 1943

I ONLY FOLLOWED HIM FOR TWO DAYS, IN JUNE OF 1943, SO I CAN'T say that I knew him. Not, at least, in any real sense.

But it's true that I thought about him a lot. Even after he'd gone back to Los Alamos, when I was just tailing that girl. And even after the war had been won, and I'd left G-2 to start my own practice.

Even now, if I'm honest. Every once in a while, when I'm on my way home from the office, I still sometimes think about Opp and that girl having dinner.

On the train, swinging out over the bay, it can start to seem as if there must have been some clue I didn't catch, when I was sitting there at the bar, watching them in the smudged mirror. An exchange between him and the girl. An expression I didn't notice.

It's possible for me to get so caught up in the details of that night that the real world—Joanne and the boys, their football games and the homework—can sometimes start to ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Trinity by Louise Hall is that rare book that delivers on expectations. It is innovative and intricate, full of detail and depth. Lyrical, sad and absolutely engrossing.   (Reviewed by Natalie Vaynberg).

Full Review Members Only (648 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ingeniously structured.... [Hall] excels at creating distinct characters whose voices illuminate their own lives and challenges, as well as the historical period that saw Oppenheimer's fall from grace.

Booklist
With war, McCarthyism, and nuclear proliferation as backdrop, Hall's observers paint a picture of not just one man but of humanity.... Each narrator has a unique and convincing voice in this compelling novel.

Library Journal
Readers who enjoy fiction concerning real people and general readers of fiction will enjoy this book. Highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews
Lushly written, this is an ambitious, unsettling novel that takes on big issues in a passionate, personal way.

Author Blurb Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs
Louisa Hall's Trinity is an intelligent and sweeping account of the characters - some real, some fictional - swirling around the testing of the first atomic bomb. It is also an affecting meditation on the ways in which we betray others and, in the process, ourselves.

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Beyond the Book

The Lavender Scare

Newspaper headlines describing the purge of homosexuals from government jobs during the Lavender ScareLouisa Hall's Trinity touches on many subjects and looks at many personalities. One of the most interesting of these is the fictional Lia Peon, a lesbian woman who escaped discrimination in Washington D.C. in the early 1950s. Peon and her girlfriend moved to St. John's, and there became friends with J. Robert Oppenheimer (who was himself rumored to be homosexual). Lia's story illustrates the struggle for basic rights that was being fought in Washington at this time.

In 1957, President Eisenhower signed an executive order that banned homosexual employees from working in the federal government. The order, which caused thousands to lose their jobs, was the culmination of a decade-long LGBT purge in Washington D.C. and brought...

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