Changing Light by Nora Gallagher
A Novel

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Nora Gallagher’s elegant debut novel is a love story set in Los Alamos in 1945, in the shadow of the creation of the first atomic bomb.During the last summer of World War II, in the beautiful high desert of New Mexico, a young painter, Eleanor Garrigue, discovers a delirious man lying by the river. She takes him in and cares for him, not knowing that he is Leo Kavan, a physicist who has fled Los Alamos after a deadly radiation accident. Eleanor herself has left New York to escape a stifling marriage and to renew her painting in the pure desert light. As the two reveal themselves to each other, their pasts and the present unfold in tandem, taking us from the heady New York art world to Einstein’s Berlin, from English bomb labs to the hidden city of Los Alamos. As their enemies close in, they find temporary solace together, connected and changed in unexpected ways by the brutal radiance of the war and their fierce love.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Nora Gallagher

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Nora Gallagher is the author of Changing Light, Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith, and Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace. Her essays, book reviews, and journalism have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, DoubleTake, and Mother Jones, among other publications. She is also the editor of the award-winning Notes from the Field, a collection of literary essays about the outdoors. She sits on the advisory board of the Yale Divinity School.
Published February 20, 2007 by Vintage. 242 pages
Genres: History, Romance, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Changing Light

Kirkus Reviews

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Gallagher shifts the focus among this trio’s present interrelations and separate stories, also sketching in a capsule history of 20th-century research science and introducing such crucially involved characters as Leo’s colleagues and superiors, Eleanor’s pragmatic cleaning woman Griefa and Los Al...

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The New York Times

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If, like me, you are of a scientific bent — or even if you’re not — New Mexico in the 1940s is one of those legendary places where the destinies of colorful and disparate strangers intertwined to cast long shadows on history.

Apr 08 2007 | Read Full Review of Changing Light: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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But after witnessing a colleague's death from radiation poisoning, a deeply distraught Leo goes AWOL from Los Alamos and turns up, delirious and fevered, near Eleanor's house.

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Deseret News

— into a love story between a young New York painter, who is unhappily married and flees to the Southwest, and Leo Kavan, a neutron physicist who flees the project after he sees the results of a radiation accident.

Mar 04 2007 | Read Full Review of Changing Light: A Novel

Spirituality & Practice

The imagery of light plays a major role in the story as Eleanor tries to delineate the light of the place where she lives, the scientist wonders about the consequences of his work on the bomb which gives off blinding light, and the priest learns a little about the light of love.

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