By Donna Savaki MRSA reared its ugly presence in the arm of a younger woman of my acquaintance. What makes this particular staph infection so terrifying is its resistance to common antibiotics which permits this disease to wreck destruction and even death in the life of a loved one. Unstoppable infections are new to these younger generations so accustomed to a quick trip to the physician for antibiotics. Yet, there was a time when a simple cut on the leg could become infected and lead to death. In World War II, more soldiers died of infections than were killed in battle combat. This was a world before penicillin.
So, the plot begins for New York Times bestselling author Lauren Belfer’s new novel, A Fierce Radiance (Harper). Her heroine, Claire Shipley, a Life magazine photographer is assigned to document the trials in the development of a new wonder drug–penicillin. She soon becomes caught in the intrigue and personal lives of dedicated doctors, mysterious labs, money hungry drug companies, and a nation soon caught up in war.
Belfer richly develops each character of A Fierce Radiance with intricate personalities and quirks. The reader knows the characters as real people full of life, but conflicted by loyalties, loves, and flaws. Scenes of New York City are richly and fully embroidered with details that enable the reader to feel and visualize the nation and the people fearful of war, German attack, and personal loss. In reading this novel I felt a part of the hope and dismay of these times that my parents lived through and described to me.
I found the story line in the development of penicillin fascinating. The intrigue of a nation at war and drug companies greedy to make money for themselves despite the altruistic needs of dying soldiers was tempered with portrayals of realistic characters. Oh, read A Fierce Radiance – it’s long and the plot slowly develops, but it is fascinating and compelling.
Donna Savaki is a retired teacher (over 30 years of teaching kindergarteners was enough). She has one daughter, Amy, who is the head honcho of Backseat Writer. She lives in Pennsylvania and owns a cute dog named Katie.
*This book was received courtesy of Kelley & Hall Book Publicity.*