I have always had an affinity with Maureen. As a teen she is a ginger bookworm looking for answers – I could relate to her plight. She may as well have been my doppelgänger. As she says, “My father once told me that I was the only one of his daughters capable of sitting down in church and finding out I had sat on a hot lemon meringue pie…anyone else would have looked.” And the affinity is further established.
Enter a parallel America, where a cohort of families has formed an alliance to keep the longevity genes flourishing. Each family is extremely long-lived, and the members are dutiful supporters of arranged marriages. It helps that Maureen genuinely falls in love with Brian, her intended husband. They build an I Love Lucy sort of life together in the early decades of the twentieth century – until all of the walls crumble.
This is my favorite Heinlein book. It portrays a nostalgic slice of mid-twentieth century America. It chronicles the trials and angst of a woman bound by the constrictive circumstances of her upbringing, who defies them and embraces a limitless New World Order. It is a study of the mundane details of our lives, that make up all our sorrows and joys. It is a glowing, glossy marketing promo for all of the possibilities housed in our imaginations.