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Her Hidden Genius

Her Hidden Genius By Marie Benedictis Summary

Her Hidden Genius from Marie Benedict’s powerful new novel shines a light on a woman who sacrificed her life to discover the nature of our very DNA, a woman whose world-changing contributions were hidden by the men around her but whose relentless drive advanced our understanding of humankind.

Rosalind Franklin has always been an outsider―brilliant, but different. Whether working at the laboratory she adored in Paris or toiling at a university in London, she feels closest to the science, those unchanging laws of physics and chemistry that guide her experiments. When she is assigned to work on DNA, she believes she can unearth its secrets.

Rosalind knows if she just takes one more X-ray picture―one more after thousands―she can unlock the building blocks of life. Never again will she have to listen to her colleagues complain about her, especially Maurice Wilkins who’d rather conspire about genetics with James Watson and Francis Crick than work alongside her.

Then it finally happens―the double helix structure of DNA reveals itself to her with perfect clarity. But what unfolds next, Rosalind could have never predicted.

About the Author

Marie Benedictis a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in history and art history and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law. Marie, the author of The Other EinsteinCarnegie’s MaidThe Only Woman in the Room, and Lady Clementine, views herself as an archaeologist of sorts, telling the untold stories of women. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

Her Hidden Genius By Marie Benedictis Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

February 3, 1947

Paris, France

A thin mist hovers over the Seine in the early morning air. Strange, I think. It isn’t yellow like the haze that floats over the murky Thames at home in London but a robin’s-egg blue. Could it be that the mist—lighter than fog, with fewer water molecules and less density—is reflecting the clearer Seine? I marvel at the meeting of sky and ground, breathtaking even in winter with the spires of Notre-Dame looming over the thin wisps of cloud. Papa would call it heaven touching earth, but I believe in science, not God.

I shake off thoughts of my family and try to simply enjoy the walk from my flat in the sixth arrondissement to the fourth. With each passing block, the cafés of the Left Bank, their sidewalk tables busy even on an early Monday morning in February, peel away, and by the time I cross over the Seine, I enter the orderly, elegant world of the Right Bank.

Even though there are differences in the two arrondissements, they both bear scars of the war in their somewhat damaged buildings and still-wary inhabitants. It’s the same at home, although in Paris, the citizens rather than their structures seem to have born more of the brunt; perhaps the specter of the Nazi occupation still looms in their midst.

A rogue, disturbing question enters my mind, one with no measurable scientific foundation, I’m quite certain. When the Nazis shot innocent French citizens and blameless Jews, did molecules from the German soldiers who loaded the bullets pass through their victims? Is Paris not only riddled with physical remains of the war but also permeated with microscopic scientific evidence of its enemies and victims as well, blended together in a way that would have horrified the Nazis? Would the detritus of Germans and Jews be identical under close analysis?

I doubt this is the sort of inquiry French physicist Jean Perrin anticipated when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1926 for proving that molecules exist. Imagine, I think with a shake of my head, that until twenty years ago, the very existence of the subuniverse that dominates my work was open to debate.

I stop short as I approach the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques. I am confused. Could this really be the venerable chemistry institution? The building has the patina of age but not necessarily the sort of respectability and stateliness I’d expected from an organization that has produced such excellent and innovative research. It could be any governmental building anywhere.

As I climb the steps to the front doors, I can almost hear Papa critique my decision: The hard work and the commitment to science is commendable, he had said, but why must you take a position in Paris, a city still digging out from the weight of occupation and terrible loss? A place where the Nazis—he said the word with considerable effort—once governed, leaving traces of their evil behind them? With effort, I banish Papa from my thoughts.

Bonjour,” I greet the receptionist in French. “Je m’appelle Rosalind Franklin, et j’ai un rendez-vous.”

To my ears, my voice sounds raspy and my French stilted. But the smartly dressed young woman—her lips a bright slash of red and her tiny waist encircled by a thick leather belt—replies with ease and a welcoming grin. “Ah, bienvenue! Monsieur Mathieu vous attend.”

“Monsieur Mathieu himself is waiting for me?” I blurt out to the woman, forgetting to hold my tongue for a moment before speaking, as I know I should. Without that pause and careful consideration of my words, I can be perceived as brusque, even combative in more heated environments. It’s a legacy of a childhood with parents who encouraged conversation and debate even with their daughter, I suppose, and a father who was expert at both.

“Monsieur Mathieu indeed!” a voice calls out from across the lobby, and I look over to see a familiar figure stride toward me with hand outstretched. “I couldn’t let our newest chercheur arrive without a proper greeting, could I? It’s a pleasure to welcome you to Paris.”

“What an unexpected honor, sir,” I reply to the senior scientist at the Ministry of Defense, who has a hand in much of the governmental scientific research in the country, thinking how wonderful my title chercheur—which means researcher—sounds coming from a native French speaker. Even though, on paper, it doesn’t appear quite as lofty as my former role of assistant research officer at the British Coal Utilisation Research Association (which we called, among ourselves, BCURA), chercheur sounds impossibly exotic. “I certainly didn’t expect to see you on my first day.”

“You are a protégé of my dear friend, Madame Adrienne Weill, and I would not want to be subjected to her wrath if I disappointed her,” he says with a wry grin, and I smile at the surprisingly impish gentleman, as well-known for his scientific prowess as his underground wartime service in the Resistance. My friendship with Adrienne, the French scientist who’d befriended me during my years at Cambridge, had yielded many unexpected benefits, not the least of which was the introduction to Monsieur Mathieu. It came at the most urgent and necessary time.

You and Madame Weill have taken extraordinary care of me,” I reply, thinking of the many favors she’s done for me over the years. “You secured me this position, and she found me a flat.”

An extraordinary mind deserves extraordinary care,” he says, the smile now gone and his face serious. “After seeing you present your paper at the Royal Institution in London in which you handily imposed order on the disordered realm of coal—and then watching you correct that other speaker’s measurements of X-ray diagrams so handily—I had to offer you a position here. How could we miss the chance to have a chercheur with such facile understanding of trous dans le charbon?” He pauses, then a smile reemerges, and he says, “Or holes in coal, as I’ve heard you describe it?”

He laughs heartily at his use of my English phrase “holes in coal” and the memory, much to my relief. Because when I stood up at the Royal Institution conference to point out the flaws in the speaker’s data, not everyone responded favorably. Two of the scientists in the audience called out for me to sit down—one even yelled “women should know their place”—and I could see the dismay register on several others’ faces. Not at the outbursts by the two scientists but at my audacity in correcting a male peer.

After we finish laughing, he compliments my research into the microstructure of coal. It’s true that I used my own methods of experimentation and an unusual form of measurement—a single molecule of helium—but I wouldn’t say the coal field has been completely organized as a result.

“You do know that I can apply my methods to subjects other than coal?” I offer, thinking how surprised my family would be to witness this rather deft management of French banter. Somehow, it is almost easier to exchange light small talk in French than English, where I am awkward—either too shy or too blunt. It’s as if the French language itself emboldens me and smooths over my sharp edges.

We are counting on it,” he exclaims. Even though our laughter has subsided, his smile remains, and he adds, “Although you may soon see that a good flat is harder to come by than a good position for a scientist in postwar France, and you may be more effusive in your thanks to Madame Weill than to me.”

I know my great fortune that Adrienne was able to secure me a room in an enormous flat on rue Garancière only a few blocks from famous Left Bank haunts like the Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots. The flat’s owner, a professor’s austere widow who has not relinquished her mourning black attire and prefers to be referred to only as Madame, had only taken me in at the request of Adrienne, who’d worked with her late husband; accommodations in Paris are otherwise almost impossible to find. Never mind the once-weekly use of the bathtub and the after-hours access to the kitchen, the flat’s soaring ceilings and the walls of bookshelves in the library-turned-bedroom are a dream.

Come.” He gestures toward a long hallway extending from the lobby. “Monsieur Jacques Mering eagerly awaits his new chercheur.”

Monsieur Mathieu leads me through a warren of hallways, past three groups of white-coated researchers, including, much to my astonishment, several women. I’d heard that the French value intelligence above all else—whether it comes from a man or woman is of no matter to them—and I’d always dismissed these declarations as just talk, since they usually came from Frenchmen. But the sheer number of women working here is undeniable, a shocking difference from my last position at BCURA.

Finally, we stop. We stand before an open door that reveals a vast, airy space lined with black lab tables and equipment and a beehive of scientists, each so deeply engrossed in their tasks that our presence doesn’t even seem to register. This hum of scientific apparatus operating and bright minds engrossed in pioneering research is like a symphony to me. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if I did, it would resemble this room.

A man suddenly glances up. Bright green eyes meet mine, and crinkles appear at the corners as his face lights in a smile. The grin stays firmly fixed on his lips as he approaches us, making the high arches of his cheekbones more pronounced. I cannot help but smile in return; his joy is infectious.

“Ah, Mademoiselle Franklin, we have been most anxious to welcome you to Paris,” the man says. “Docteur Franklin, I mean.”

Yes, Docteur Franklin,” Monsieur Mathieu says, “I’d like to introduce you to the head of the labo in which you’ll be working. This is Monsieur Jacques Mering.

A pleasure,” Monsieur Mering says, his hand outstretched in greeting. “We have been waiting for you.”

My breath catches at this warm welcome, and I think, It seems I’ve finally arrived.

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Her Hidden Genius

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1728229391, 978-1728229393
Posted onJanuary 25, 2022
Page Count304 pages
AuthorMarie Benedictis

Her Hidden Genius By Marie Benedictis PDF Free Download - Epicpdf

Her Hidden Genius from Marie Benedict's powerful new novel shines a light on a woman who sacrificed her life to discover the nature of our very DNA, a woman whose world-changing contributions were hidden by the men around her but whose relentless drive advanced our understanding of humankind.

URL: https://amzn.to/361gbZW

Author: ​Marie Benedict

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