(Past program) Lake Forest Reads 2022

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2022 Selection

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"What an important book this is … So brilliantly sketched is this brilliant woman that you will find yourself both infuriated by the misogynistic battles she faces and inspired by the intellectual achievements she manages to secure regardless. A must-read for anyone interested in science or forgotten heroines." —Kate Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Radium Girls and The Women They Could Not Silence

"Benedict adeptly brings forward another accomplished, intriguing, and unjustly overlooked or oversimplified real-life woman in a welcoming and involving historical novel." —Booklist


About the Book

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—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.

Go to the catalog to borrow "Her Hidden Genius" by Marie Benedict

Photo Credit: Anthony Musmanno

About the Author

As a young woman, Marie Benedict was gifted a book by a treasured aunt—who also happened to be an English professor—that opened her eyes to the hidden world of women's stories and voices that lurked in the shadows of the past. The epiphany she experienced while immersed in this particular book, The Mists of Avalon, is one she hopes to share with the readers of her own books, as she unearths important but unknown, historical women from the detritus of the past and brings them into the light of modern-day where their very contemporary contributions and issues can be explored.

Marie's route to authorship was circuitous—involving a decade as a commercial litigator in New York City and failed aspirations at becoming an archaeologist—but now that she's arrived, she is wasting no time in writing her narratively connected series of historical novels, that began with The Other Einstein, the story of Einstein's first wife, a physicist who made important contributions to his theories, continued with Carnegie's Maid, the tale of an Irish immigrant woman who influenced Carnegie's transformation into the founder of free libraries, and persists with The Only Woman In The Room, the story of the brilliant inventor Hedy Lamarr.

Lady Clementine (Jan 2020) is the story of the incredible Clementine Churchill and was an instant international bestseller. Her next novel, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie was published in January of 2021, and her first co-written book, The Personal Librarian, with the talented Victoria Christopher Murray, in June of 2021. Her latest novel, Her Hidden Genius, was published in January 2022. Coming in January 2023 is The Mitford Affair.

Marie, a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College and a cum laude graduate from the Boston University School of Law after which she practiced as a commercial litigator in New York City for a decade, lives in Pittsburgh with her family. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also published the historical novels The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare.

Read · Discuss · Attend

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Thank you for attending these 2022 events with us

  • Afternoons with Judy Levin discussion of "Her Hidden Genius"

  • Book Discussion with Dickinson Hall: "Her Hidden Genius"

  • DIY Kit: Beaded Double Helix Keychain

  • Where Science & Art Connect with Deb Levie

  • Book Chat & Coffee: "Her Hidden Genius"

  • Feature Film Friday showing of "Hidden Figures"

  • Nonfiction at Night discussion of "Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA"

  • A Conversation with Author Marie Benedict and Davis Schneiderman

  • A Morning Chat with Marie Benedict & Dr. Lise Eliot

  • After Hours with Author Marie Benedict


Further Reading & Resources

Writing Contest


  • Submit your typed entry by September 30, 2022, using the form below.
  • Entries must be between 2,000 and 10,000 words.
  • Entries must involve some theme from “Her Hidden Genius,” (women in science, DNA, Paris, London, physics, chemistry, x-rays, etc.).


  • Your entry published on the Library’s blog and promoted on social media
  • A personalized, signed copy of “Her Hidden Genius”
  • A $50 gift card to Lake Forest Book Store
  • Two front row seats to all Lake Forest Reads author events

Read this year's winning entry

Submit Your Entry

Thank You to Our Partners

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