The Wives of Los Alamos

by Tarashea Nesbit
Published by Audible
Historical Fiction

Audible Editors' Select, February 2014

There’s no doubt about it, TaraShea Nesbit’s debut is a strange one. But it’s also lyrical and lovely and appeals to my inner English major who gets giddy when a novel’s form matches its meaning so perfectly. Being so acclimated to books that delve into the minutiae of individual experience, the use of the first person plural narrative voice was a shock to my ear, though it wasn’t long before I realized what Nesbit was getting at here. Historical women make great fictional fodder (think The Paris Wife, The Women, The Chaperone, just to name a few) because often so little is known about them. But Nesbit take a different tactic. Instead of fleshing out one person from the mass of history she makes this about the common experience of the families who were present during the development of the atom bomb. Her approach allows for a series of vignettes that together encompass a sweeping sense of time and place, and sheds new light on one of the most defining collective experiences in human history. —Emily, Audible Editor


Nesbit’s well-researched novel looking back to the years 1943-45 and the creation of the A-bomb is made even better by Tavia Gilbert’s energetic, upbeat narration. The author takes a risk by making her narrator a collective “we.” Having no individual character to connect to, the “we” proves distancing rather than inviting. However, thanks to Gilbert’s performance, relationships become clear. As the wives give up their lives and careers to follow their scientist husbands to the desert, Gilbert makes their sense of helplessness apparent. Moments of fun and growing camaraderie mingle with moments of snobbery, jealousy, boredom, and booze. Gilbert enlivens all the details–from the expectations for women of the era to the cataclysmic dropping of the bomb. AudioFile Magazine