Jenny Davidson author of HEREDITY ($14.00, Soft Skull Press)

tells the story of Elizabeth Mann, a young woman plagued by self-destructive habits, who thinks leaving New York will solve her problems. Taking a travel-writing assignment to London, she encounters the skeleton of the famous 18th-century criminal Jonathan Wild in an obscure museum. Elizabethís burgeoning preoccupation with the master thief is briefly interrupted by an encounter with Gideon Streetcar, an infertility specialist and lover-to-be. Then Streetcar presents her with the memoirs of Jonathan Wild's second wife, Mary. The journals have been painstakingly restored by a British Library technician, and Elizabeth, fascinated with the story they tell, soon discovers that Wildís first wife was also named Elizabeth Mann. Further tantalized by this coincidence, Elizabeth's obsession with Wild consumes her completely, and with Gideonís expert assistance, she concocts a plan whereby she can give birth to the infamous man's child. She soon shows signs of pregnancy. Heredity is an intrigue of sex and death in which the one fails to preclude the other. Drawing early comparisons to Peter Hoeg's best-selling Smilla's Sense of Snow, this deadpan literary detective story is a remarkably entertaining and devious debut with a high-tech twist that echoes recent headlines. Jenny Davidson was born in London in 1971 and grew up in Philadelphia, where she attended Germantown Friends School. She has degrees from Harvard and Yale and currently teaches eighteenth-century British literature in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Heredity is her first novel and it has already been chosen as a Gear 100 Buzz Pick of 2003 by Gear magazine.

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