New York Times Best Seller
Named a Best Book of 2019 by Vogue and NPR's Maureen Corrigan
"Freudenberger's brilliant and compassionate novel takes on the big questions of the universe and proves, again, that she is one of America's greatest writers." --Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less
An emotionally engaging, suspenseful new novel from the best-selling author, told in the voice of a renowned physicist: an exploration of female friendship, romantic love, and parenthood--bonds that show their power in surprising ways.
Helen Clapp's breakthrough work on five-dimensional spacetime landed her a tenured professorship at MIT; her popular books explain physics in plain terms. Helen disdains notions of the supernatural in favor of rational thought and proven ideas. So it's perhaps especially vexing for her when, on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday in June, she gets a phone call from a friend who has just died.
That friend was Charlotte Boyce, Helen's roommate at Harvard. The two women had once confided in each other about everything--in college, the unwanted advances Charlie received from a star literature professor; after graduation, Helen's struggles as a young woman in science, Charlie's as a black screenwriter in Hollywood, their shared challenges as parents. But as the years passed, Charlie became more elusive, and her calls came less and less often. And now she's permanently, tragically gone.
As Helen is drawn back into Charlie's orbit, and also into the web of feelings she once had for Neel Jonnal--a former college classmate now an acclaimed physicist on the verge of a Nobel Prize-winning discovery--she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart.
Suspenseful, perceptive, deeply affecting, Lost and Wanted is a story of friends and lovers, lost and found, at the most defining moments of their lives.
Freudenberger (The Newlyweds) explores the convergence of scientific rationality and spirituality in this stunning portrayal of grief. Helen is an MIT physics professor of some renown known as much for her accessible science writing as for the theoretical model that bears her name. A single mother by choice, Helen, now in her mid-40s, is shaken to learn of the death of her best friend, Charlie Boyce, a successful screenwriter whom she met when they were undergraduates at Harvard. As Helen grapples with her own regrets about having fallen out of touch with Charlie, she and her seven-year-old son, Jack, become increasingly close with Charlie's husband and five-year-old daughter, Simmi. The children are desperate for a supernatural connection to the deceased; Helen is skeptical except for the fact that she continues receiving eerily knowing text messages from Charlie's cell phone. Like her narrator, Freudenberger resists the impulse to use science solely as metaphor; indeed, readers will learn a great deal about the LIGO project and its Nobel Prize winning work with cosmic gravitational waves. The integration of ideas from physics sparks in the reader new ways of thinking about the nature of time and existence as well as, on a less cosmic scale, about human relationships. Helen's journey through grief and understanding illustrates how one person can represent many things to different people at different times, and her story is about grief not only at the loss of her friend but also at the demise of countless possible futures. This is a beautiful and moving novel.
Lost and wanted... Wanted a better edit
Although I quite enjoyed he book, it was frustrating when I realized it hadn't been given a careful edit. Not only to snare the dozen or so typos, but larger story pieces that were not consistent. First Aunt Penny never married. Then a couple chapters later, we are told that she had married when she was quite young... Which was it?
So well written and researched. I googled Nell to check to see if she was a physicist in her past life!