As a female scientist myself, I am here for all the stories I can find about trail-blazing women in the field. Marie Curie, the first female Nobel Prize (ultimately the winner of two) is one that I greatly admire but I didn’t know much about her personal life. Cantor tells us the story of how Marya, a young driven Polish girl becomes Marie, a confident French scientist changing the field of medicine. The novel imagines a second timeline where young Marya chose love in Poland over an education at the Sorbonne. Either one of these stories would have made for a great novel of an important woman in human history but together they played off one another perfectly. It was interesting to see the drastic differences and the subtle parallels. I loved her passions and the way she navigated trying to fulfill her need for education in both time lines.
I have two small criticisms that kept this from being 5 stars for me. One, not enough about the science! The narrative of Marie’s life and how she felt about science and the impact of her discoveries/awards was interesting but I really wanted more details about her work in the lab. That is likely just a personal preference though, I imagine not everyone without a science background would want to get lost in that minutiae… but I did. I do appreciate that the Author’s Note provided some great resources for that. Two, while I understand everyone has limitations, Marie’s relationship with her daughters (in both time lines) had a subtle undertone of “a woman can’t have it all.” This may have been the truth of her life, but it made it hard for me to root for her. You can be wholly dedicated to your career and care about your children in a healthy way. I hate to be critical of someone’s life but I don’t like underlining that her family suffered for her work. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thank you to Harper Perennial for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
I devoured this one along with my favorite breakfast on my flight home this week.
What’s your favorite breakfast? 🥯🥞🍳🥓