The Goddess of Small Victories

The Goddess of Small Victories

Downloadable Audiobook - 2014
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Princeton University, 1980. A young and unambitious librarian named Anna Roth is assigned the task of retrieving the records of Kurt Godel-the most fascinating and hermetic mathematician of the twentieth century. Her mission consists of befriending and ultimately taming the great man's widow, Adele, a notoriously bitter woman set on taking belated revenge against the establishment by refusing to hand over these documents of immeasurable historical value.But as Anna soon finds out, Adele has a story of her own to tell. Through descriptions of Princeton and Vienna after the war, the occupation of Austria by the Nazis, the pressures of McCarthyism, the end of the positivist ideal, and the advent of nuclear weapons, Anna discovers firsthand the epic story of a genius who could never quite find his place in the world-and the private torment of the woman who loved him.
Publisher: [United States] : Blackstone Audio, Inc. : Made available through hoopla, 2014.
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9781483018638
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 audio file (13hr., 17 min.)) : digital.
Alternative Title: hoopla (Digital media service)


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EKGO Aug 30, 2016

I listened to this during the day while simultaneously reading Tamar by Mal Peet at night. I mention this because both stories are similar in plot and format - survivors of WWII tell their tales in reverse while modern-day young women are affected by said stories. Despite the similarities, however, I have had a vastly different reaction to each book.
In this case, Anna is a journalist, of sorts, who is tasked with befriending Kurt Gödel's ailing widow, Adele, in order to gain access to his unpublished papers.
The two women strike a bargain: If Anna provides Adele with insight into her young life, Adele will recount her memories of her time with the famous mathematician and philosopher, in return.
The story is a back-and-forth between Adele's pre-war days in Vienna, her courtship of Kurt, and their escape to America where they befriend Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, and others at Princeton University.

You may imagine that, as this is being told from Adele's point of view, it wouldn't be so math-heavy, but it's still pretty weighty. However, it's not at all focused on Gödel's work, but more on Adele's insecurities, her desire to meddle in Anna's life, and her need to express her opinions and beliefs at every possible moment.

If math and logic and the resulting philosophies the two inspire are your thing, this may be quite interesting to you. If hard-headed, resentful, gossipy, dying war survivors pique your interest, you should enjoy this.
I was bored.
Gödel isn't a figure I've ever cared to research and I think I may be a little burned out on WWII novels.
I never felt invested in either Adele's or Anna's personas so there was very little to keep me interested in this story. I powered through because there's always something to be learned in historical fiction, but I don't think this is a story that will stick with me long.


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