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Publisher's Summary

Hailed as “a writer of uncommon clarity” by the New Yorker, National Book Award finalist Allegra Goodman has dazzled listeners with her acclaimed works of fiction, including such beloved best sellers as The Family Markowitz and Kaaterskill Falls. Now she returns with a bracing new novel, at once an intricate mystery and a rich human drama set in the high-stakes atmosphere of a prestigious research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Sandy Glass, a charismatic publicity-seeking oncologist, and Marion Mendelssohn, a pure, exacting scientist, are codirectors of a lab at the Philpott Institute dedicated to cancer research and desperately in need of a grant. Both mentors and supervisors of their young postdoctoral protégés, Glass and Mendelssohn demand dedication and obedience in a competitive environment where funding is scarce and results elusive. 

So when the experiments of Cliff Bannaker, a young postdoc in a rut, begin to work, the entire lab becomes giddy with newfound expectations. But Cliff’s rigorous colleague - and girlfriend - Robin Decker suspects the unthinkable: that his findings are fraudulent. As Robin makes her private doubts public and Cliff maintains his innocence, a life-changing controversy engulfs the lab and everyone in it. 

With extraordinary insight, Allegra Goodman brilliantly explores the intricate mixture of workplace intrigue, scientific ardor, and the moral consequences of a rush to judgment. She has written an unforgettable novel. 

©2006 Allegra Goodman (P)2006 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"Extremely engaging....A truly humanist novel from the supposedly antiseptic halls of science." (Publishers Weekly)

"Goodman's characters and story are luxuriously imagined....[She] meticulously charts the insidiousness of doubt, showing how it metastasizes." (Newsday)  

"Goodman's sympathetic yet floundering characters are compelling, their conflicts provocative, and her writing spellbinding....Vivid, incisive, and funny." (Booklist

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What listeners say about Intuition

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Baby
  • 11-10-2006


I had been looking forward to this book, as I had heard good things about Allegra Goodman. As a former "lab rat", I was especially interested in this story. I had read that even as Goodman got the science right, her strong characterization was the true delight of the book. Unfortunately, that's not my experience with it. The science sounds right, but not much else does. Maybe this book is better read than listened to, but to me the prose sounds flat and mundane. The characters remain 2-dimensional, because too much is explicitly told instead of shown through the characters' actions. In many parts of it I felt that Goodman really belabors her point and used 5 sentences when 1 would do. Maybe my problem with it is that it reminds me too much of my experience in the lab: a lot of slogging through repeated experiments, with not much to show for at the end.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Haleyana
  • 26-06-2006

Don't waste your time

I really hated this book. I listened to all of it, hoping it would get better; but it just dragged on and on. Characters called "flawed", "human" and "sympathic" in critic's reviews were, to me, just whiny, morose and utterly unsympathetic. I bought this book aftet reading an article comparing Goodman's style to Jane Austen. Goodman may admire Austen, but Intuition contains none of Austen's subtle wit and incisive characterization. I was alternately boerd and annoyed by Intuition; in fact, I was only ever interested at moments when I thought some interesting tragedy might befall one of the characters. Its a sad state of affairs where you find yourself hoping the main character will be diagonsed with cancer, struck by a car or fall through the ice to drown. Yet, despite some well crafted suspense, nothing ever comes of it; the build up leads nowhere. I can't get back the 14 hours I invested in Intuition, but perhaps I can spare you the time I lost.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • J. C. Oregon
  • 25-05-2006

A Few High Spots

Sadly, there were only a few high spots in this book. Cancer research is a fascinating topic, however I found the characters to be shallow and tediously predictable. The foreign accents were a bit hard to believe and consequently were distracting.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Marilyn
  • 27-04-2006


Leave this one alone. I work in a lab, and we have more day to day excitment than this has in the total read. When the author talked about the Apple 2E I knew I had picked a clunker!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pamela Harvey
  • 15-04-2006

Brainy Bravado!

Goodman immerses the reader in the highly competitive bio-tech research environment and gives the reader a well-constructed story, perfectly-paced, with a wide assortment of detailed and believable characters. That none of these people is totally likeable and there is no real "protagonist" - yet she makes it all work - is more to her credit! I still vote five stars even though there seems to be a compelling but unrealistic preponderance of international players from intellectually advantaged backgounds. But on the other hand, most scientists actually do come from that cultural matrix, but somehow it's all enough to make the reader feel like an underachiever! But that is a minor point. As a bonus "character", there is the city of Boston and its cerebral hub, Cambridge, which will resonate with authenticity in the mind of anyone who has lived or spent any time there.

Props to the narrator too, for characterization and nailing all those accents!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • judy wiley
  • 21-09-2013

Unrealistic depiction of labs and scientists

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A more realistic depiction of the true nature of scientific investigations and creating truly believable characters!

Has Intuition turned you off from other books in this genre?

Other books by Allegra Goodman.

Which character – as performed by Kathe Mazur – was your favorite?

She did them all well, though Kate was probably my favorite.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Intuition?

All of them.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bonnie Brody
  • 03-08-2009

Great Story and Wonderful Narration

This is a novel about what happens in a laboratory staffed with post-docs when pure science is at odds with the desire to have quick results. The two lab directors have different goals. One wants to make a splash in the science world. The other wants to proceed slowly and make sure that the science is pure and replicable. Each of the post-docs also have agendas. This is a fascinating scientific mystery.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • akaGracie
  • 07-12-2016

Allegra Goodman is a Genius

How does she do it? I've read this book, and listened to it twice, and I still don't know how Allegra Goodman made this work.

Each time I return to it, I enjoy the story, I like the characters, I want to be part of the world depicted here - but the mystery at its heart (what actually happened in the lab) evades me again. I think one thing happened but apparently it didn't.

After three experiences, though, I will return to it again early in 2017 and once again I know I will be so pulled into the story that I won't notice the writer's skill until it's over and I'm once again wondering how it all worked.

Kathe Mazur's beautiful performance made this audio version even more pleasurable than the physical book.

Now if only someone would record Kaaterskill Falls and The Family Markowitz, and do a better recording of The Cookbook Collector - but I can definitely recommend them in book form.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lana Hall
  • 30-11-2016

Morality in a Cancer Research Lab

I had to read this book for a science fiction literature class in college and I ended up loving it! I thought it was interesting and it didn't have dull areas. The character development was great and I love the ending too. Great read!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Emeritus
  • 20-03-2015

if you have a lab read it, otherwise skip it

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

folks who spend time in research labs

What was most disappointing about Allegra Goodman’s story?

It took almost the whole book to "take off" and ended up not clearing the trees. Slow, subplots like smitten teens and other side plots, didn't much like any of the characters, completely undramatic and just something that did not seem like a whole lot of interest to anyone - and I am in the medical sciences.

How could the performance have been better?

Just did not like the reader's voice - rarely happens with Audible but was too whiney for my enjoyment

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not many. I have no idea who recommended it but won't make that mistake again.

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