Home » Fiction & Literature » Carol Muske-Dukes » Saving St. Germ

June 21 , 2010

Saving St. Germ

A Novel


Consumed by her pursuit of a Theory of Everything, a brilliant California scientist struggles to deal with life in and outside the lab

Doctor Esme Charbonneau Tallich’s passion is cosmology, the science of the origin of the universe; specifically, she is searching for a TOE, or a Theory of Everything. Esme is a feminist maverick, a rogue thinker. Hired as a professor of molecular biology at the University of Greater California, she prefers the “bench science” of organic chemistry at one extreme and “walking out into space” at the other. Her marriage to a TV director and aspiring stand-up comedian is rocky. Esme’s five-year-old daughter, Ollie, the sun in her galaxy, seems an enigma. Too readily diagnosed by professionals as “challenged,” even possibly autistic, she is, like Esme, a renegade thinker and creative mind. Her use of language is poetic, not deficit driven or conventional.

As her marriage dissolves, Esme’s struggle to maintain custody of Ollie and autonomy for herself and her work is set against the backdrop of the beckoning cosmos. Her tantalizing closeness to discovery of a grand unified theory—as psychiatric professionals, lawyers, and Esme’s estranged husband also close in on Ollie, seeking to medicate and restructure her—heightens tension while also offering hope. The discovery that Esme seeks is twofold: enlightenment and equilibrium in the troubled universes of her personal and professional lives. Saving St. Germ is a provocative, dramatic look at a single mother’s life at the edge of the universe—and the center of the human heart.
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