Wonderful. Learn about genetics while getting to know a cranky, intelligent, funny little man - Dr. Benedict Lambert. Lambert is a dwarf. He is also a geneticist, and much of his drive in this field is to find out just what makes a dwarf.
About 90% of "little people" are accidents. They come from normal parents with no history of dwarfism. It's a genetic goof, a mutation. The question is: where does this mutation occur on the incredibly long DNA chain? When offered a seat at a prestigious institution, Lambert says this will be his area of study.
There is hardly an hour that goes by when Lambert is not reminded of the differences between him and "normal" humans. He is also sharply aware of the way many people overcompensate for their discomfort around him, clapping perhaps a little too loudly, smiling a little too broadly, only emphasizing more that they feel he is different from them.
Lambert yearns to know what he might have looked like, if the traits of achondroplasty had not separated him from his mother and father and joined him with others around the world instead. He wonders what a child of his, a normal child, would look like.
As he explains to us various wonders of genetics, complete with footnotes, always at the back of his mind is how it all ended up - in him. Curiously, he is related, by an odd great-uncle, to Gregor Mendel, the little priest who labored over his pea plants for years and years and wrote the definitive explanation of genetics, of dominance and recession and more. We are treated to many imaginary conversations in Mendel's life, filling out the bare bones of what is known of his existence.
This is no dry science book, however. The personality of Ben is far larger than his overlooked body, and it is this character that makes the book so alive. Ben is no long-suffering saint. When told how brave he is, he counters that bravery only counts when you have a choice. His appetites are certainly up to par, and his thoughts might even be considered ...at times...perverted.
And thus we come to his affair. He meets up with a woman who was a young librarian when he was but a callow youth seeking wisdom from the library shelves. He had always felt a little bit of lust about this quiet, retiring librarian with the quirky trait of having one blue eye and one green (a mutation as well!). The two become adult friends, and Ben can hardly keep from thinking about becoming more than friends. I will leave it to you to discover if this happens and what is the result.
While this is a funny, witty, intelligent book, don't be fooled into thinking there is anything particularly lightweight about it, Easy to read, sure, but weighty in implications, and finally, not made for television.
I should mention - the library from which I bought this book classified it as a "romance". tsk tsk. Somebody there should have read it or at least read the inside covers.