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PureWow names If You Are There
“Sherman’s tale is a feast of detail and description…” Kirkus
“If You Are There provides one pleasure after another, and I couldn’t put it down.” Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen, Longlisted for the National Book Award and Finalist for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction
“If You Are There is challenging and yet unpretentious, complex, deliberate, and wholly, completely original.” Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times bestselling author of Hausfrau
“It is a rare book that is as scientific as it is magical and as magical as it is scientific.” Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
“Sherman explores all of her characters with precise, tender compassion and radiant insight….” Karen E. Bender, author of Refund, Finalist for the National Book Award
Set in the early 1900s, the novel follows young Lucia Rutkowski who, thanks to the influence of her beloved grandmother, escapes the Warsaw ghetto to work as a kitchen maid in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the bustling city of Paris. Too talented for her lowly position, Lucia is thrown out on the street. Her only recourse is to take a job working for two disorganized, rather poor married scientists so distracted by their work that their house and young child are often neglected. Lucia soon bonds with her eccentric employers, watching as their work with radioactive materials grows increasing noticed by the world, then rising to fame as the great Marie and Pierre Curie.
Soon, all of Paris is alit with the news of an impending visit from Eusapia Palladino, the world’s most famous medium. It is through her now famous employers that Lucia attends Eusapia’s gatherings and eventually falls under the medium’s spell, leaving the Curie household to travel with her to Italy. Ultimately, Lucia is placed directly in the crosshairs of faith versus science –what is more real, the glowing substances of the Curie laboratory or the glowing visions that surround the medium during her séance?