Gary Krist, the New York Times reviewer, summarizes Heredity‘s plot as follows:
[The protagonist], like most of the women in this brashly implausible book, wants to have a baby. What she doesn’t want is to pass her family’s genes to another generation.
An impossible conundrum? Not in the age of Dolly and Clonaid. And Elizabeth has apparently found a way: while visiting an obscure museum on her freelance job doing research for a London travel guide, she stumbles upon the skeleton of the notorious criminal Jonathan Wild — ”the Al Capone of the 1720’s” — whom she regards as something of a kindred spirit….
The dual narrative that develops, 18th- and 21st-century story each shadowing the other, begs comparison, naturally, to A.S. Byatt’s Possession, which set the model for this kind of library melodrama. But where Byatt’s version is enormous, romantic and sentimental, Davidson’s novel is short and sharp. If there’s any familial bond between them, then Heredity could serve as Possession‘s uglier, grittier, surlier cousin.
(Poet Douglas Goetsch is also reading at Pete’s tonight.)