Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Good Reads

I just finished reading Madame Curie and Eclipse. It's funny to have those in the same sentence even. They're so different! But I loved them both.

I recommend Madame Curie by her daughter Eve Curie to anyone. It was SO good! I was surprised and how easily I was drawn into it and also how easy it was to understand the scientific jargon. Granted, I do lean toward what I might call being "scientifically minded", but I think Eve Curie did a masterful job of telling her mother's story in a way that laymen could understand many of the details of Marie Curie's work.

I admire Marie Curie greatly. She worked in awful conditions alongside her husband, Pierre, for many years to discover Polonium and Radium. I was struck by her drive to continue her work. I think she was a little insane about her rigorous work schedule but at the same time it's admirable. And she loved what she did. She even worked 12-14 hour days right up to her death at age 66!

I wish she could have had better resources for her research earlier on her career. I'm not sure that's changed much for scientists over the years. They slave so hard to make new discoveries, but very few are "sponsored" or supported with the things they need until those discoveries are actually made.

When I started the book, I knew very little about Marie Curie and her life. I think I knew what most people know - that she was a great scientist and discovered radium with her husband. I really enjoyed learning about the work she did during World War I! She created mobile x-ray "cars" that could be used in surgery and also found a way to make x-ray hospitals throughout France. She was only able to put together something like 10-15 of the cars, but she personally started 200 X-ray hospital rooms during the war to help the war effort. Amazing!

I was also struck by how intense her relationship with Pierre was. I was really sad reading about his death and how much her life changed after that. She never was able to speak with her daughters about him. It hurt too much.

I thought several times as I was reading about how wonderful it is to have a testimony of Christ's restored Church. Her inner struggles would have been so different and she could have been comforted in knowing that Pierre was waiting for her and in knowing that there is a greater plan than our mortal lives. I think she is waiting peacefully and happily in the spirit world and knows more of our Heavenly Father's plan for us. I like to think so anyway.

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer is a completely different kind of book. I have to step away from my thoughts of Marie Curie to even begin to think about Stephenie's Meyer's world of vampires and werewolves. :)

I loved it and would love to recommend it, but it all depends on your tastes! If you love fantasy and fiction and don't mind reading plots where the main character is a teenager, then read it!

I can't really say much about it without creating spoilers. I will say that the story's been rolling around in my head since I finished and I've been creating continuations as I anxiously await the next installment of the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, which is due next fall. I better hurry up and lose myself in other books though because right now it feels like a really long time to wait. I'll be curious to read her next novel that comes in May of next year, The Host.

1 Comment:

  1. Crystal said...
    I've always been intrigued by Marie Curie as well. I took a poetry class in college and we studied this poem by Adrienne Rich--it's always stuck with me:


    Living in the earth-deposits of our history

    Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
    one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
    cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
    for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

    Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
    she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
    her body bombarded for years by the element
    she had purified
    It seems she denied to the end
    the source of the cataracts on her eyes
    the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
    till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

    She died a famous woman denying
    her wounds
    her wounds came from the same source as her power.

    As I was searching for that poem, I came across this one that I like too:

    Marie Curie Gives Advice to her
    Daughter Irene Before her Wedding
    --by Julianna Baggott

    I remember this moment--the pram distilled,
    its sediment was an infant,
    no longer something born from me,
    not residue, not pitchblende,
    but its own particle,
    an open mouth, a cry,
    within its head, a mind wrestling with thoughts
    --my motherland could be there,
    driven into the skull,
    some ancient homing.
    Years I have soaked
    in radium.
    I've begun to bleed light.
    I see your father again
    crossing streets in rain--
    the doors are locked,
    his umbrella fills with wind,
    the horses approach,
    hauling a wagon of soldier's uniforms--
    something to dress the dead--
    it's come to crush him.
    My navy suit with solid stitching crushes me.
    And since then I've begun to confuse
    the glowing test tubes
    with wicks of the moon, a dazing field of stars,
    my own soul, and a moment goes by
    when I forget the brutish charm of work.
    My hope, daughter, is that
    what you love doesn't come to kill you,
    eye by eye, ear by ear, bone by radiant bone.

    by Julianna Baggott

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