Her Hidden Genius

A Novel

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Pub Date 25 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2022
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark


From the New York Times bestselling author of THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE and THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM

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.

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.

From the New York Times bestselling author of THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE and THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM

Rosalind Franklin has always been an outsider—brilliant, but different. Whether working at the...

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ISBN 9781728229393
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Featured Reviews

Her Hidden Genius brings an intense historical woman whose high standards of ethics and drive to serve for betterment of humankind were instilled in her childhood and carried her to one of the greatest discoveries in scientific world, thus, influencing the humanity.

France, 1947. Rosalind Franklin is a new researcher at chemistry institute in Paris. As a woman researcher, she felt discrimination in her native England. That’s why she welcomed this opportunity to be working in Paris where male-minds seem to be much more open toward female scientists.

Using a somewhat new scientific approach, the institute hopes to make further discoveries in molecular worlds, which further can serve a purpose for humanity. With her skills and the institute’s methods, they hope to find the ultimate purpose. While enjoying her research, she also enjoys the openness and friendliness with other colleagues, which she lacked in England.

She receives an invitation to have her research published in one of the most esteemed scientific journals and attend a scientific conference for which she is grateful. She just doesn’t know if that might be a cause of jealousy.

With certain reason, she returns to England, even though she thought she’d stay in Paris forever. In England, unexpectedly an opportunity presents for her to be working on uncovering the structure of DNA. But there are others who want to be the first to map the structure of DNA and to have a claim to what she has just discovered. Will old alliances prevail or will the promise of this research given to her be kept?

I enjoyed this heroine very much for whom the solitude of the scientific life appeals. The work as a scientist excites her despite being forced to change positions a few times due to toxic atmosphere. She comes from an affluent family, where women were encouraged to be well-educated and to use their intellectual gifts for the betterment of mankind. Pursuit of pure science is not necessarily what her family had in mind. It’s more through such work as charity. But she follows her heart. She knows herself better than anyone else and she knows that life of submission to men is not something that would make her happy. The life of science gives her freedom, which fits her perfectly.

Written with crisp prose, the novel brings informative descriptions of the scientific progress in identifying the structure of DNA, including the famous photo 51. It gives a good picture of heroine’s scientific progress, but it does not overwhelm the story. We also get to know the brilliant heroine who is much disciplined, working many hours and determined to achieve something for betterment of humankind. The time period she lived in while trying to be a female scientist is well-presented.

As with her other novels, Marie Benedict continues to shine a light on women whose talents were hidden by male dominated world. Women whose discoveries brought one of the greatest contributions to humankind and whose stories deserve to be told.

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This book beginning was so slow for me. It dragged and I wasn't sure I would finish. Well I stuck it out and SO GLAD I DID! listening to Rosalind travails was so familiar to me because I had similar experience in the photographic field after college. I could really empathize with her experience of, dare I say shallow and small minded men? This book pulled at my heartstrings and had me rooting for Rosalind from beginning to end. I don't quit follow the minute details of the tests she was conducting but knew enough to keep up with the story. And if you love French, the French words are a comfort in the story or at least I found then to be. I say 4.5 stars rounded up because the story ended up being far better than I thought when I first started. Sorry Ms Benedict no disrespect here! I loved your story.

Thank you to NetGalley and publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion..

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She changed the world with her discovery. Three men took the credit.

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 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. Before she could reveal to the world her discovery, three men, Wilkins, Watson, and Crick, took the credit after having gotten hold of her research. Years later, it was finally revealed through books about her life the role that she played in the discovery of DNA.

Marie Benedict is a marvelous author and has a real talent to reveal the lives of little known women in history and the role they played. Her description of Franklin, her battle with Wilkins and others, and the ultimate price she paid is so well done. She obviously did a lot of research into Franklin's life and character as well as those around her including her friends, family and colleagues. I highly recommend. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this outstanding book.

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The Marie Benedict historical fiction books of women continue to impress. This novel of Rosalind Franklin, a scientist working tirelessly on DNA research, was well told. I may not have followed all the science as well as some of the occupational details of Benedict’s earlier books, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the struggles she experienced because she was a female, the unfair treatment she received from some male scientists, and especially the scientists, family, and friends who supported her. An excellent read!

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”I feel like you’re on the brink of a major discovery…”

If you love historical fiction or stories of women in STEM, add Her Hidden Genius to your TBR list! Rosalind Franklin is a fascinating figure in real-life scientific history, and her story, as told by Marie Benedict, is artfully-crafted and compelling.

”So to answer your question, Papa—‘to what end’ is my work? I’ll be researching how life itself replicates… Papa, the science I’ll be conducting is the study of life itself.”

Rosalind Franklin was a scientist and chemist in the 1940s whose work was integral to our modern understanding of DNA. This book tells the story of her rise through Parisian laboratories and London universities as she worked to uncover the mysteries surrounding the building blocks of life. But, in her male-dominated field, Rosalind’s greatest challenge wouldn’t be finding the answers—it would be earning credit for her work…

”You have only one choice then, my dear Rosalind. Protect your science at all costs.”

Her Hidden Genius incorporates many of the more intellectual aspects of Rosalind’s career and scientific knowledge, but also places great emphasis on her interpersonal relationships. The story paints Rosalind as more than just a brilliant scientist—we get to see her as a loyal friend who found great joy in the company of her “people;” as an adult child of parents who just can’t seem to understand or appreciate her for who she is; as a perpetual outsider in her field because of her gender, persistently fighting for a seat at the table. She is multi-faceted, layered, and incredibly relatable.

”Could it be possible that for the first time in my life, I’ve found a place to belong?”

I love the way Marie Benedict takes little-known, real-life people, and recreates their histories, their relationships, their narratives, in ways that go so far beyond any superficial mention in a history textbook. Her writing is impeccably researched and grounded in reality, yet always engaging and deeply moving, with empathetic portrayals of the challenges and struggles her characters likely faced. Her Hidden Genius is no exception - Benedict has hit another home run here!

”Even in my sleep, I’m trying to solve the question of the structure of life. I know that it’s just within my grasp; I need only to stretch a little more.”

I loved every minute of this book, from the warm camaraderie of the researchers working together in the labs to the shocking betrayals committed by other scientists trying to stay at the top of their field. Fans of Atomic Love and Kate Quinn will love it too!


A huge thank you to Marie Benedict, Sourcebooks, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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I have read every novel that Marie Benedict has written.
And yes, meeting her in real life would reduce me to a stuttering, blushing fangirl. LOL
I'm telling you this so you know I'm predisposed to enjoy this book.
I love reading about the lost histories of women. It's a passion of mine.
And reading about Rosalind Franklin's experiences ,,, how she was treated in the scientific world ... just made my blood boil.
Ms. Franklin, for being one of the first and forging a path for the women who came next, THANK YOU!
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I really enjoyed this historical novel, it was wonderfully written about a woman that I had never heard of before. The story was well done and I enjoyed getting to know the characters.

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In post World War II France, Rosalind Franklin enters a new position at a lab that welcomes her as an equal, an opportunity she didn't have in England. Rosalind loves the camaraderie of the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de l'État and becomes one of the top researchers in X-ray crystallography. Rosalind decides to leave France and join King's College London where she is given a new research topic to use her expertise in X-Ray crystallography for- DNA. Rosalind is unwittingly thrown into the race to figure out the properties and form of DNA. Rosalind finds competition within her own lab as her colleague Maurice Wilkins conspires against her and collaborates with Watson and Crick who are not even supposed to be working on DNA. Despite the difficult conditions, Rosalind pushes through until the hidden details of DNA reveal themselves to her.

As a female scientist I have always revered the female pioneers who paved the way and made it possible for me to enter my field. While Her Hidden Genius is a work of fiction, it has obviously been meticulously researched and includes many facts of Rosalind's life while researching DNA. Rosalind had an incredibly difficult path to forge. Despite her family being wealthy, Rosalind was a Jewish woman in post World War II Europe entering the field of scientific research. Immediately, Rosalind's passion for the science, details and finding the truth shone through. I was immersed in Rosalind's time in the lab and the atmosphere of the science labs at the time. The writing did a wonderful job of explaining the science of Rosalind's projects while showing the human side of the science as well. I enjoyed reading about the camaraderie in the lab as well as the competition. I was enraged as Rosalind questioned her brusqueness of her tone and words to the men around her while those men were quite literally stealing her data. Rosalind amazed me with her ability to move forward and fight for her science as well as her grace and acceptance that Watson and Crick published their results first based on her research. While Rosalind might have been forgotten for a time and seen through the eyes of her male researchers, Her Hidden Genius is a step in giving Rosalind Franklin the recognition she deserves.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced electronic copy of this amazing book. Marie Benedict did it again! She created another masterpiece, highlighting yet another phenomenal, not very well known woman (Rosalind Franklin) and her crucial contribution to society. Can’t recommend this book high enough and can hardly wait to find out what Ms. Benedict is working on next.

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I'm always eager to learn about the newest Marie Benedict novel. Her historical fiction titles are so good. I love being able to recommend them to readers at my library. This book is very timely since it focuses on DNA which we keep hearing about, of course. Learning about the frustration that Rosalind Franklin faced as a woman scientist and how determined she was to reveal the structure of DNA was fascinating. I'm so glad I took the time to read this book!

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Thanks to NetGalley for opportunity to enjoy and learn as I read Her Hidden Genius. Having enjoyed some of Ms. Benedict’s prior books, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, The Other Einstein, I was excited to read the story of Rosalind Franklin.
The name "Her Hidden Genius," struck me as read because I am embarrassed to admit I knew very little of Rosalind Franklin. I enjoyed reading this book and could almost feel like I was walking the same streets as Rosalind Franklin did. I cannot imagine how it felt being a woman whose brilliance was discounted, and ideas taken from her. Reading this wonderful book I developed a profound respect for Rosalind Franklin and the impact she made on our history. Marie Benedict weaves fiction with facts and gives life to Rosalind Franklin, with respect and tenderness to unveil the genius she was.

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Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict is an excellent historical fiction that focusses on the life of Rosalind Franklin. I just loved this book!

I have been a fan of Ms. Benedict for some time and have read, and loved, every one of her books. Obviously, I was super excited that she has written yet another gem that highlights the beyond fabulous Rosalind Franklin.

As a Biology major, I have obviously read, researched, and learned about not only this impressively intelligent woman, but also how her groundbreaking discoveries towards the structure and overall makeup of the double helix (genetic material) that helped create the foundation of Genetics in general.

She was a fascinating, complex, and beyond under appreciated woman that was well before her time. It has always been so heartbreaking to me to see her not be fully recognized for all that she discovered and sacrificed for the progression within the fields of science. She was forever fighting an uphill battle due to her gender, politics, and colleagues (rivals), and she also paid the ultimate sacrifice for her research.

I am so glad that over the last few decades, more light has been shed on this wonderful woman and all that she has rightfully contributed towards the advancement of so many pivotal and fundamental concepts within so many fields within biology/physics.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and Sourcebooks Landmark for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 1/25/22.

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Another excellent book by Marie Benedict! Rosalind Franklin - like so many women of her time - fought the stereotype of how women should be and act to work in her beloved field of science! Her very short life produced so much - it is only right she receives the credit she was denied while living. This book does just that! Great read - very moving. Would make a great reading group book.

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Her Hidden Genius is about a subject that I knew nothing about and a woman whose name I had never heard of. But because I love Marie Benedict’s books, I read this one--and was not disappointed. Rosalind Franklin’s story, while based in science, could be the story of many women who labor in male dominated professions, who silently struggle to be successful in their field and then find the rug pulled out from under them by award seeking men. However, Ms. Benedict tells Rosalind’s story with a range of good and bad experiences and at the end of Rosalind’s life she finds love, friendship with her peers, and some measure of success. I expected to be saddened by the ending (yes, I googled her shortly after starting the book), but the ending is not tragic, but almost joyful and full of hope. Please make sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of the book--I was glad to see Watson, Crick, and especially Wilkins get their payback!!

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Rosalind Franklin was a real British-born scientist who was completely dedicated to her work in post-World War II Europe. She was also unfairly underappreciated in her lifetime in a male-dominated, religious and politically diverse academic world. This fictional work has been well and honestly researched by Marie Benedict and created with her talent to make her characters interesting and their perceived lives fully realized. Though written with factual details of Dr. Franklin’s research, especially in DNA discovery and modelling, the story is engrossing and understandable even for a non-scientist. The well-drawn personal interactions of family, friends, competitors, and colleagues make this a completely engaging portrait.

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30 years as a science librarian caused me to be aware of Rosalind Franklin and the way she was treated by the scientific community in the mid-20th century. She was known as the "dark lady of DNA," but, as there was really very little published about her, I was so interested to read this book. Although it is historical fiction, and therefore not always factual, it does present a more thorough picture of Dr. Franklin. Interestingly, the actual way that Watson and Crick found out about the invaluable Photo 51 is not completely clear here. I always thought that Watson secretly attended one of Dr. Franklin's closed lectures and then convinced Wilkins to secure a copy. I admire that the author chose to be purposefully unclear, as there is no actual proof of how it happened. I also admire that the author fleshed out Dr. Franklin's entire life, providing solid information about her life in Paris before her DNA work, and her life afterwards, both of which were satisfying times. Thanks very much to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for providing an ARC.

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The author is one of my favorite Net Galley authors. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own.

This is a very scientific based historical novel based on the life of researcher Rosalind Franklin and her DNA discoveries that are still used in today's science labs. It is the story of a brilliant woman who was fighting to be recognized for her work, who was smarter then all the men she worked with, yet held back in a male dominated career of mysogany and discrimination against women. Rosalind deserves to have her story told as do so many women of science that were overlooked by men in their fields. I applaud the author's efforts to tell her story and she tells it brilliantly. We need more stories of these brilliant women and their contributions to our world.

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Another beautifully written novel with engaging and memorable characters. You will be sad when the novel concludes and you are left awaiting the next brilliant prose.

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Marie Benedict is doing fantastic work sharing the stories of women who history, if not forgot, doesn't honor as much as it should. Rosalind Franklin's story, and her discoveries that had remarkable and lasting impact on today's scientific understandings, is fascinating. At times this story is infuriating- seeing the ways in which being female caused Rosalind to be dismissed, ignored, harassed, and stolen from despite what she brought to the table. Benedict also brings Franklin to life- readers get to see her flaws as well as her humor and passion. While some of the scientific language was more in depth than I was necessarily interested in, this is overall another excellent story from Marie Benedict.

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Marie Benedict is one of my "automatic read" authors. I'm loving her emphasis on women who deserve more recognition, and eagerly await each one.

Like a few other reviews have said--this may start a bit "slow" for you. Stay with it. This is a moving, heartbreaking, infuriating, and ultimately, beautiful story of a genius who battled family and societal expectations to become a science legend. Be prepared for the last several chapters to crush you--in a bittersweet way.

Librarians/booksellers: This will probably be an automatic purchase--Benedict is a favorite among historical fiction readers1

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This is the third book I have recently read by Marie Benedict and it certainly will not be my last. The book details the life of Rosalind Franklin a brilliant English scientist who was denied acclaim during her short life. She began her career studying the molecular makeup of coal but found the scientific community in England stulifying and unwelcoming to females. Her dream job took her to a "labo" in Paris just after WWII where men and women worked as equal colleagues. However, an unfortunate personal interlude caused her to leave Paris and return to England where she began concentrating on DNA research. Again, scientific research in a male-dominated facility caused her to eventually leave her position for another where she began studying viruses. After her death three men were awarded the Nobel Prize based on her groundbreaking discoveries without any credit to her work.

As usual, Marie Benedict unearths the story of a woman deprived of earned respect and acclaim during her lifetime. The author's research is evident and it is blended seamlessly with the fiction to relate an incredible story of an unsung heroine. The ARC I read was on offer from The Well Read Librarian adult newsletter and NetGalley. It included discussion questions, the author's afterward as well an interview with the author. Those additions were both beneficial and interesting. I am happy to have had this reading experience.

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This is an amazingly detailed, well described historical fiction novel about a scientist names Dr. Rosalind Franklin.
The time frame if from 1947 thru 1058 at the time of her death.
Franklin worked continuously to discover and prove the double helix structure of DNA.
However, it was a man's world and the credit was never really shown to this amazing scientist.

I enjoyed this book and actually could believe I was right in the lab with her at times, but I do believe that without a science interest and or background, it may seem lengthy and definitely confusing.
The bigger picture is that Marie Benedict has done a remarkable job in the writing and research of this character to bring Dr. Rosalind Franklin to the public eye!
Well done!

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A historical fiction look at the life of Rosalind Franklin. As a female scientist operating in the confines of a predominantly male scientific field we learn about her life, her struggles, and her passions. Her life changes the world, and in the process the world changes her. Thanks to NetGalley for the early read.

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Do you remember back in high school when you were forced to take Biology and Chemistry classes? For many of us the question of "when will I ever need this information" swarmed through our heads. This book is the reason you took those classes! With a stroke of her pen Benedict once again brings to light a woman whom history had bulldozed into oblivion.
Rosalind Franklin could have taken the easy road that was offered to her by her family. Instead she embraced her love of science and math. In a male dominated world, Franklin diligently strove to be the best. She willingly sacrificed any chance to have love and start her own family in order to better serve the scientific community. She fought to be acknowledged for her scientific discoveries amidst the challenges of jealousy and revenge.
Benedict takes extremely difficult scientific content and breaks it down into semi-digestible portions for the average reader. It is still a book that you need to dedicate your full attention to. Franklin's life is short but fascinating. The recognition she deserves for her contributions to science is long overdue.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.

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“Her Hidden Genius” is a novel based on the life of scientist Rosalind Franklin. This book tells the story of a remarkable woman and the contributions she made to the “unraveling” of the mysteries of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, and viruses. The book not only brings to light the scientific accomplishments of Dr. Franklin, but also tells her personal story- how her family, her friends, and her feelings shaped her to become an important, albeit little known, figure in her field.
The author is able to effectively take the reader to post-war Paris and London and describe the influences that these settings had on the scientific communities Dr. Franklin was a part of. Being an investigative scientist in a male=dominated field would require a level of dedication and determination that the author emphasized throughout the story . The author provides enough detail about Dr. Franklin’s work to give the reader insight into her genius, but not so much as to bog the story down.
This book leans more toward the “historical” aspects of Dr. Franklin’s story, and less toward the “fiction”, Overall, it was a worthwhile read about an interesting woman whose significant contributions to her field have been largely overlooked by history.

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Another wonderful story from Marie Benedict, Her Hidden Genius! I loved this story of Rosalind Franklin who was a brilliant scientist and who worked on and became the one who discovered DNA and it's strands and it's make up. Because she is a woman in the 1950's, working in the labs of a "man's world", she must be smarter, quicker and stand up for herself, which does remarkably. This is a lovely story about a female scientist who had to fight for herself and her work and she does it very well.

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This is the historical fiction account of Rosalind Franklin, who essentially discovered the double helix structure of DNA even though others have taken credit for it. It was a little slow going in the beginning, but then it picked up the pace and I found it enjoyable. There is a lot of scientific language used, which takes a bit to get used to, which is maybe why it seemed slow in the beginning.

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