The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
While looking for a Danielle Steele book for a friend, I happened to see this book in the New Fiction section of Hastings. And, since I’ve lived in Los Alamos most of my life, I had to look at it. It looked interesting.
This book is about Los Alamos during the period of 1944 through 1946, when women came with their husbands to the middle of the New Mexico desert not knowing what they were getting themselves into nor what they’d do once they got there. It’s told from the combined viewpoints of 20-100 women who made homes and families while their husbands worked on a project so secret that they couldn’t even tell their wives what they were doing. These women came from all walks of life, from the cosmopolitan New York, booming Chicago, and from across the waters from France, Great Britain and even Germany. There were teachers, mathematicians, scientists, as well as housewives. Some came with children in tow or were pregnant when they arrived or became so shortly after. They endured shortages of not only fancy dresses, stylish heels, and perfectly coiffed hair, but also spoiling milk (it had to travel 250 miles in non-refrigerated trucks), wilted or rotten fruits and vegetables, and poor meat. They lived with uncertain electrical power, no bathtubs, and constant watching by the military. Their town was surrounded by barbed wire and a trip 35 miles away to Santa Fe was something to watch their and their children’s tongues rather than a delightful trip off The Hill. The women did what women always do, they created knitting circles, had parties, and even started a square dance club which still may exist to this day. (I know it did in the mid-to-late 1980’s.)
A lot of research went into this book. It’s a good read and a quick read, only 230 numbered pages.