cover image Marie Curie: A Life

Marie Curie: A Life

Susan Quinn, Author Simon & Schuster $29.5 (509p) ISBN 978-0-671-67542-4

Quinn (A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney) presents here a carefully researched, well-rounded study of Curie (1867-1934), the physicist credited with isolating radium. Born Marie Sklodowska in Poland, she left her home to study in Paris, where she met and married physics professor Pierre Curie. Agreeing with earlier accounts, Quinn depicts their marriage as a devoted partnership. The Curies together made an investigation of radioactivity, for which they shared the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics. But Quinn breaks ground in her detailed description, drawn from newly available papers, of Marie's life after Pierre's accidental death in 1906. At first so grief-stricken she neglected her two daughters, Irene and Eva, Marie later had a love affair with French scientist Paul Langevin. Because Langevin was married, Marie was vilified by the French press and was almost denied the 1911 Nobel Prize for chemistry. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club and QPB alternates. (Mar.)