The Cassandra is a book about three things - it's a retelling of the Greek myth of Cassandra the prophetess; it's a story about a very young woman trying to go to work and be more than her family thinks she can be in the 40s; and it's a piece of historical fiction about the Hanford nuclear research site. Mildred Groves flees from her role as her mother's caretaker to take a job as a secretary at Hanford on the Columbia River. She does very well in her work, but is more than ever troubled by her visions of a calamitous future. Though she finds friends here no one listens to her any more than they ever did at home.
There is a level of dread throughout this book that belies the naivity of its narrator. Of course, if the reader knows anything about WWII or the Cassandra myth, you know that dreadful things are going to happen, and Mildred is not as innocent as she seems. Mildred's rye observations on being a woman in a man's world make this novel a bit more than the sum of its parts. It's at times uncomfortable to read, but worth the struggle.