While my computer has been down these last few days I have not sat idly by; I have completed a children's story titled Henry Loves Hash Browns, finished a second draft of a story titled Do Butterflies Drink Lemonade?; and have been charging ahead with my Summer Reading pile...I mean list. Having finished The Celtic Twilight (days ago!) I moved on to Eve Curie's biography of her mother Madam (Doctor, actually) Marie Sklodovska-Curie, followed by Per Olov Enquist's fictional novel The Book About Blanche and Marie, based on the relationship between Marie Curie and her lab assistant Blanche Wittman, as researched in letters and journal entries, then built upon. Yesterday I read A Scented Palace by Elisabeth De Feydeau (only 114 pages).
And so, to recap.....I found Marie Curie's life to be an incredible story: she was a brilliant woman, a child prodigy, really, who faced and overcame nearly insurmountable odds on her journey to greatness, not the least of which was crushing poverty. Despite the grand titles and numerous awards she earned, won and was given, she seems to have retained an attitude of grateful humility, thankful that she had been given the opportunity to learn, teach, research, and bring polonium and radium to light, as well as use her knowledge for the benefit of humankind. Hers is an extraordinary story, really.
I followed it up with Enquist's novel, and I will not hesitate to say, with rather rude honesty, that I thought it was terrible. The writing style is alluring; in fact the style itself (reminiscent of Alice Hoffman's writing style, actually, at least to me!) may be the only reason I finished the book. It is written in a unique voice, told in both the first and the third person, though distantly, as though the storyteller doesn't want you to invest much thought in the person behind the words, but just the words themselves.
The story revolves around love: love lost, love gained, love hated, love spurned, and around death, or rather Blanche's obsession with death: natural, in gradual stages, and imagined (or desired) murders. At the same time passages read redundantly, as though the storyteller's (and through this first person voice, Blanche's) thoughts circle back again and again to the same ideas.
A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer is very well written, but interesting mostly in that despite all the evidence of Fargeon's support of the rising Republic he was still arrested and held for trial, and nearly executed, all because he created a quality product that the nobility coveted. It's a very good look at how very screwed up France was during the Revolution and the days that followed.
I'm shuffling things around now, mostly because my book pile fell over, and the book at the top of the pile was Laura Esquivel's Between Two Fires. I am on page 65, and have decided I need to purchase this one. My husband has just announced we are going out for ice cream. I will continue this post later. (Probably lying on the couch feeling extremely ill, as I am lactose intolerant, but I don't care. ICE CREAM!) Later all! Much luvz!!!