This book features a brilliant scientist who is gaining fame in cloning experiments. Evelyn Caldwell is a workaholic who prefers to live in her lab working the week long. She knows that to succeed she must follow her dreams relentlessly. There is just one catch. Nathan, the man she loves and who seems to share her passion, is not so dedicated. He wants children. She feels children would slow or halt the progress of her scientific work. And, she recently received an award for what she has accomplished thus far but funding is still a struggle. It all changes when she discovers he is cheating on her. As they are head for divorce, she sees the other woman who looks like her twin. Than she realizes that he has secretly made a clone of her so he could have a more malleable wife!
Unbelievably, the cloned replica is pregnant. It shouldn't be possible but she is. Upon meeting Martime she explains callously how she came to be and explains why she believes Martine was created. Then comes an urgent phone call from Martin. She insists that Evelyn must come to the house immediately. When Evelyn arrives she finds Nathan on the kitchen floor dead. It seems that he came at Martine with a knife and in struggling over the knife he is accidentally killed. What can they do? Realizing that her career can be destroyed because no one knows of Martine's illegal existence, she looks to Martine for help. Martine, who has digested her own status as a clone suggests a copy of Nathan to solve the problem!
As the women work together and get to know each other, Evelyn comes to see her work through the eyes of others which helps her understand how others feel. There are more twists to this story ahead. And, as I read the author's unusual comments at the book's end, I found I want to read more of her work. It's a fascinatingly interesting story!
Marvellous little Science Fiction allegory, using cloning as a metaphor for thoughts about identity, about survival of childhood (and adult) trauma, about the possibility of reinventing yourself. And about forgiveness ...
A carefully paced, and (with a few quibbles) beautifully written story of the redemption of a woman whose life, right up to the beginning of of novel, has been shaped by horrific (but only vaguely described, and hinted at) childhood abuse.
"I'm not a monster," she says, again and again. But, like all good unreliable narrators, she is condemned from her own lips, and every thing she says, and everything she does, makes it clear that the insufferable Evelyn Caldwell IS a monster: completely self-centred, blind to the feelings of others, and oblivious to the pain of anyone (including herself ...). And then ... and then ....
Gailey handles the SF elements extremely well -- of course, the premise is utter codswallop, but I felt that she handles the science-y jargon that she needs for her plot well enough to allow the suspension of disbelief necessary to accept the idea of clones who are "born" as adults, with all of the personality traits, and most of the memories of their template human.
It reminded me a bit of Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" (especially the clever use of a VERY annoying, completely unaware, first person narrator). There were times when I wondered if Gailey had been inspired to write a novel that answers one of the questions that someone reading NLMG might come away with: What kind of monsters would DO this horrible thing? If NLMG is the story of the clones who have been created to serve as tools, and be sacrificed in some sort of (vague, and also unscientific) organ donation scheme, this starts as the story of someone who would develop that process, and think it was a great idea -- and be cold-blooded and heartless enough to carry it through.